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Title: The Pickwick Papers

Author: Charles Dickens

Release date: July, 1996  [Etext #580]
Posting Date: April 22, 2009

Language: English

Character set encoding: ASCII

*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE PICKWICK PAPERS ***




Produced by Jo Churcher








THE PICKWICK PAPERS


By Charles Dickens




CONTENTS


1. The Pickwickians

2. The first Day's Journey, and the first Evening's Adventures; with
their Consequences

3. A new Acquaintance--The Stroller's Tale--A disagreeable Interruption,
and an unpleasant Encounter

4. A Field Day and Bivouac--More new Friends--An Invitation to the
Country

5. A short one--Showing, among other Matters, how Mr. Pickwick undertook
to drive, and Mr. Winkle to ride, and how they both did it

6. An old-fashioned Card-party--The Clergyman's verses--The Story of the
Convict's Return

7. How Mr. Winkle, instead of shooting at the Pigeon and killing the
Crow, shot at the Crow and wounded the Pigeon; how the Dingley Dell
Cricket Club played All-Muggleton, and how All-Muggleton dined at the
Dingley Dell Expense; with other interesting and instructive Matters

8. Strongly illustrative of the Position, that the Course of True Love
is not a Railway

9. A Discovery and a Chase

10. Clearing up all Doubts (if any existed) of the Disinterestedness of
Mr. A. Jingle's Character

11. Involving another Journey, and an Antiquarian Discovery; Recording
Mr. Pickwick's Determination to be present at an Election; and
containing a Manuscript of the old Clergyman's

12. Descriptive of a very important Proceeding on the Part of Mr.
Pickwick; no less an Epoch in his Life, than in this History

13. Some Account of Eatanswill; of the State of Parties therein; and of
the Election of a Member to serve in Parliament for that ancient, loyal,
and patriotic Borough

14. Comprising a brief Description of the Company at the Peacock
assembled; and a Tale told by a Bagman

15. In which is given a faithful Portraiture of two distinguished
Persons; and an accurate Description of a public Breakfast in their
House and Grounds: which public Breakfast leads to the Recognition of an
old Acquaintance, and the Commencement of another Chapter

16. Too full of Adventure to be briefly described

17. Showing that an Attack of Rheumatism, in some Cases, acts as a
Quickener to inventive Genius

18. Briefly illustrative of two Points; first, the Power of Hysterics,
and, secondly, the Force of Circumstances

19. A pleasant Day with an unpleasant Termination

20. Showing how Dodson and Fogg were Men of Business, and their Clerks
Men of pleasure; and how an affecting Interview took place between
Mr. Weller and his long-lost Parent; showing also what Choice Spirits
assembled at the Magpie and Stump, and what a Capital Chapter the next
one will be

21. In which the old Man launches forth into his favourite Theme, and
relates a Story about a queer Client

22. Mr. Pickwick journeys to Ipswich and meets with a romantic Adventure
with a middle-aged Lady in yellow Curl-papers

23. In which Mr. Samuel Weller begins to devote his Energies to the
Return Match between himself and Mr. Trotter

24. Wherein Mr. Peter Magnus grows jealous, and the middle-aged Lady
apprehensive, which brings the Pickwickians within the Grasp of the Law

25. Showing, among a Variety of pleasant Matters, how majestic and
impartial Mr. Nupkins was; and how Mr. Weller returned Mr. Job Trotter's
Shuttlecock as heavily as it came--With another Matter, which will be
found in its Place

26. Which contains a brief Account of the Progress of the Action of
Bardell against Pickwick

27. Samuel Weller makes a Pilgrimage to Dorking, and beholds his
Mother-in-law

28. A good-humoured Christmas Chapter, containing an Account of a
Wedding, and some other Sports beside: which although in their Way even
as good Customs as Marriage itself, are not quite so religiously kept
up, in these degenerate Times

29. The Story of the Goblins who stole a Sexton

30. How the Pickwickians made and cultivated the Acquaintance of a
Couple of nice young Men belonging to one of the liberal Professions;
how they disported themselves on the Ice; and how their Visit came to a
Conclusion

31. Which is all about the Law, and sundry Great Authorities learned
therein

32. Describes, far more fully than the Court Newsman ever did, a
Bachelor's Party, given by Mr. Bob Sawyer at his Lodgings in the Borough

33. Mr. Weller the elder delivers some Critical Sentiments respecting
Literary Composition; and, assisted by his Son Samuel, pays a small
Instalment of Retaliation to the Account of the Reverend Gentleman with
the Red Nose

34. Is wholly devoted to a full and faithful Report of the memorable
Trial of Bardell against Pickwick

35. In which Mr. Pickwick thinks he had better go to Bath; and goes
accordingly

36. The chief Features of which will be found to be an authentic Version
of the Legend of Prince Bladud, and a most extraordinary Calamity that
befell Mr. Winkle

37. Honourably accounts for Mr. Weller's Absence, by describing a Soiree
to which he was invited and went; also relates how he was intrusted by
Mr. Pickwick with a Private Mission of Delicacy and Importance

38. How Mr. Winkle, when he stepped out of the Frying-pan, walked gently
and comfortably into the Fire

39. Mr. Samuel Weller, being intrusted with a Mission of Love, proceeds
to execute it; with what Success will hereinafter appear

40. Introduces Mr. Pickwick to a new and not uninteresting Scene in the
great Drama of Life

41. Whatt befell Mr. Pickwick when he got into the Fleet; what Prisoners
he saw there; and how he passed the Night

42. Illustrative, like the preceding one, of the old Proverb, that
Adversity brings a Man acquainted with strange Bedfellows--Likewise
containing Mr. Pickwick's extraordinary and startling Announcement to
Mr. Samuel Weller

43. Showing how Mr. Samuel Weller got into Difficulties

44. Treats of divers little Matters which occurred in the Fleet, and
of Mr. Winkle's mysterious Behaviour; and shows how the poor Chancery
Prisoner obtained his Release at last

45. Descriptive of an affecting Interview between Mr. Samuel Weller and
a Family Party. Mr. Pickwick makes a Tour of the diminutive World he
inhabits, and resolves to mix with it, in Future, as little as possible

46. Records a touching Act of delicate Feeling not unmixed with
Pleasantry, achieved and performed by Messrs. Dodson and Fogg

47. Is chiefly devoted to Matters of Business, and the temporal
Advantage of Dodson and Fogg--Mr. Winkle reappears under extraordinary
Circumstances--Mr. Pickwick's Benevolence proves stronger than his
Obstinacy

48. Relates how Mr. Pickwick, with the Assistance of Samuel Weller,
essayed to soften the Heart of Mr. Benjamin Allen, and to mollify the
Wrath of Mr. Robert Sawyer

49. Containing the Story of the Bagman's Uncle

50. How Mr. Pickwick sped upon his Mission, and how he was reinforced in
the Outset by a most unexpected Auxiliary

51. In which Mr. Pickwick encounters an old Acquaintance--To which
fortunate Circumstance the Reader is mainly indebted for Matter of
thrilling Interest herein set down, concerning two great Public Men of
Might and Power

52. Involving a serious Change in the Weller Family, and the untimely
Downfall of Mr. Stiggins

53. Comprising the final Exit of Mr. Jingle and Job Trotter, with a
great Morning of business in Gray's Inn Square--Concluding with a Double
Knock at Mr. Perker's Door

54. Containing some Particulars relative to the Double Knock, and other
Matters: among which certain interesting Disclosures relative to Mr.
Snodgrass and a Young Lady are by no Means irrelevant to this History

55. Mr. Solomon Pell, assisted by a Select Committee of Coachmen,
arranges the affairs of the elder Mr. Weller

56. An important Conference takes place between Mr. Pickwick and
Samuel Weller, at which his Parent assists--An old Gentleman in a
snuff-coloured Suit arrives unexpectedly

57. In which the Pickwick Club is finally dissolved, and everything
concluded to the Satisfaction of Everybody





THE POSTHUMOUS PAPERS OF THE PICKWICK CLUB




CHAPTER I. THE PICKWICKIANS


The first ray of light which illumines the gloom, and converts into a
dazzling brilliancy that obscurity in which the earlier history of the
public career of the immortal Pickwick would appear to be involved, is
derived from the perusal of the following entry in the Transactions of
the Pickwick Club, which the editor of these papers feels the highest
pleasure in laying before his readers, as a proof of the careful
attention, indefatigable assiduity, and nice discrimination, with which
his search among the multifarious documents confided to him has been
conducted.

'May 12, 1827. Joseph Smiggers, Esq., P.V.P.M.P.C. [Perpetual
Vice-President--Member Pickwick Club], presiding. The following
resolutions unanimously agreed to:--

'That this Association has heard read, with feelings of unmingled
satisfaction, and unqualified approval, the paper communicated by Samuel
Pickwick, Esq., G.C.M.P.C. [General Chairman--Member Pickwick Club],
entitled "Speculations on the Source of the Hampstead Ponds, with some
Observations on the Theory of Tittlebats;" and that this Association
does hereby return its warmest thanks to the said Samuel Pickwick, Esq.,
G.C.M.P.C., for the same.

'That while this Association is deeply sensible of the advantages which
must accrue to the cause of science, from the production to which they
have just adverted--no less than from the unwearied researches of
Samuel Pickwick, Esq., G.C.M.P.C., in Hornsey, Highgate, Brixton, and
Camberwell--they cannot but entertain a lively sense of the inestimable
benefits which must inevitably result from carrying the speculations of
that learned man into a wider field, from extending his travels, and,
consequently, enlarging his sphere of observation, to the advancement of
knowledge, and the diffusion of learning.

'That, with the view just mentioned, this Association has taken into its
serious consideration a proposal, emanating from the aforesaid, Samuel
Pickwick, Esq., G.C.M.P.C., and three other Pickwickians hereinafter
named, for forming a new branch of United Pickwickians, under the title
of The Corresponding Society of the Pickwick Club.

'That the said proposal has received the sanction and approval of this
Association. 'That the Corresponding Society of the Pickwick Club
is therefore hereby constituted; and that Samuel Pickwick, Esq.,
G.C.M.P.C., Tracy Tupman, Esq., M.P.C., Augustus Snodgrass, Esq.,
M.P.C., and Nathaniel Winkle, Esq., M.P.C., are hereby nominated and
appointed members of the same; and that they be requested to forward,
from time to time, authenticated accounts of their journeys and
investigations, of their observations of character and manners, and of
the whole of their adventures, together with all tales and papers to
which local scenery or associations may give rise, to the Pickwick Club,
stationed in London.

'That this Association cordially recognises the principle of every
member of the Corresponding Society defraying his own travelling
expenses; and that it sees no objection whatever to the members of
the said society pursuing their inquiries for any length of time they
please, upon the same terms.

'That the members of the aforesaid Corresponding Society be, and
are hereby informed, that their proposal to pay the postage of their
letters, and the carriage of their parcels, has been deliberated upon by
this Association: that this Association considers such proposal worthy
of the great minds from which it emanated, and that it hereby signifies
its perfect acquiescence therein.'

A casual observer, adds the secretary, to whose notes we are indebted
for the following account--a casual observer might possibly have
remarked nothing extraordinary in the bald head, and circular
spectacles, which were intently turned towards his (the secretary's)
face, during the reading of the above resolutions: to those who knew
that the gigantic brain of Pickwick was working beneath that forehead,
and that the beaming eyes of Pickwick were twinkling behind those
glasses, the sight was indeed an interesting one. There sat the man who
had traced to their source the mighty ponds of Hampstead, and agitated
the scientific world with his Theory of Tittlebats, as calm and unmoved
as the deep waters of the one on a frosty day, or as a solitary specimen
of the other in the inmost recesses of an earthen jar. And how much more
interesting did the spectacle become, when, starting into full life
and animation, as a simultaneous call for 'Pickwick' burst from his
followers, that illustrious man slowly mounted into the Windsor chair,
on which he had been previously seated, and addressed the club himself
had founded. What a study for an artist did that exciting scene present!
The eloquent Pickwick, with one hand gracefully concealed behind
his coat tails, and the other waving in air to assist his glowing
declamation; his elevated position revealing those tights and gaiters,
which, had they clothed an ordinary man, might have passed without
observation, but which, when Pickwick clothed them--if we may use the
expression--inspired involuntary awe and respect; surrounded by the men
who had volunteered to share the perils of his travels, and who were
destined to participate in the glories of his discoveries. On his right
sat Mr. Tracy Tupman--the too susceptible Tupman, who to the wisdom and
experience of maturer years superadded the enthusiasm and ardour of a
boy in the most interesting and pardonable of human weaknesses--love.
Time and feeding had expanded that once romantic form; the black silk
waistcoat had become more and more developed; inch by inch had the gold
watch-chain beneath it disappeared from within the range of Tupman's
vision; and gradually had the capacious chin encroached upon the
borders of the white cravat: but the soul of Tupman had known no
change--admiration of the fair sex was still its ruling passion. On the
left of his great leader sat the poetic Snodgrass, and near him again
the sporting Winkle; the former poetically enveloped in a mysterious
blue cloak with a canine-skin collar, and the latter communicating
additional lustre to a new green shooting-coat, plaid neckerchief, and
closely-fitted drabs.

Mr. Pickwick's oration upon this occasion, together with the debate
thereon, is entered on the Transactions of the Club. Both bear a strong
affinity to the discussions of other celebrated bodies; and, as it is
always interesting to trace a resemblance between the proceedings of
great men, we transfer the entry to these pages.

'Mr. Pickwick observed (says the secretary) that fame was dear to the
heart of every man. Poetic fame was dear to the heart of his friend
Snodgrass; the fame of conquest was equally dear to his friend Tupman;
and the desire of earning fame in the sports of the field, the air,
and the water was uppermost in the breast of his friend Winkle. He (Mr.
Pickwick) would not deny that he was influenced by human passions and
human feelings (cheers)--possibly by human weaknesses (loud cries of
"No"); but this he would say, that if ever the fire of self-importance
broke out in his bosom, the desire to benefit the human race in
preference effectually quenched it. The praise of mankind was his swing;
philanthropy was his insurance office. (Vehement cheering.) He had felt
some pride--he acknowledged it freely, and let his enemies make the most
of it--he had felt some pride when he presented his Tittlebatian Theory
to the world; it might be celebrated or it might not. (A cry of "It
is," and great cheering.) He would take the assertion of that honourable
Pickwickian whose voice he had just heard--it was celebrated; but if
the fame of that treatise were to extend to the farthest confines of the
known world, the pride with which he should reflect on the authorship of
that production would be as nothing compared with the pride with which
he looked around him, on this, the proudest moment of his existence.
(Cheers.) He was a humble individual. ("No, no.") Still he could not but
feel that they had selected him for a service of great honour, and
of some danger. Travelling was in a troubled state, and the minds of
coachmen were unsettled. Let them look abroad and contemplate the scenes
which were enacting around them. Stage-coaches were upsetting in all
directions, horses were bolting, boats were overturning, and boilers
were bursting. (Cheers--a voice "No.") No! (Cheers.) Let that honourable
Pickwickian who cried "No" so loudly come forward and deny it, if he
could. (Cheers.) Who was it that cried "No"? (Enthusiastic cheering.)
Was it some vain and disappointed man--he would not say haberdasher
(loud cheers)--who, jealous of the praise which had been--perhaps
undeservedly--bestowed on his (Mr. Pickwick's) researches, and smarting
under the censure which had been heaped upon his own feeble attempts at
rivalry, now took this vile and calumnious mode of---

'Mr. BLOTTON (of Aldgate) rose to order. Did the honourable Pickwickian
allude to him? (Cries of "Order," "Chair," "Yes," "No," "Go on," "Leave
off," etc.)

'Mr. PICKWICK would not put up to be put down by clamour. He had alluded
to the honourable gentleman. (Great excitement.)

'Mr. BLOTTON would only say then, that he repelled the hon. gent.'s
false and scurrilous accusation, with profound contempt. (Great
cheering.) The hon. gent. was a humbug. (Immense confusion, and loud
cries of "Chair," and "Order.")

'Mr. A. SNODGRASS rose to order. He threw himself upon the chair.
(Hear.) He wished to know whether this disgraceful contest between two
members of that club should be allowed to continue. (Hear, hear.)

'The CHAIRMAN was quite sure the hon. Pickwickian would withdraw the
expression he had just made use of.

'Mr. BLOTTON, with all possible respect for the chair, was quite sure he
would not.

'The CHAIRMAN felt it his imperative duty to demand of the honourable
gentleman, whether he had used the expression which had just escaped him
in a common sense.

'Mr. BLOTTON had no hesitation in saying that he had not--he had
used the word in its Pickwickian sense. (Hear, hear.) He was bound to
acknowledge that, personally, he entertained the highest regard and
esteem for the honourable gentleman; he had merely considered him a
humbug in a Pickwickian point of view. (Hear, hear.)

'Mr. PICKWICK felt much gratified by the fair, candid, and full
explanation of his honourable friend. He begged it to be at once
understood, that his own observations had been merely intended to bear a
Pickwickian construction. (Cheers.)'

Here the entry terminates, as we have no doubt the debate did also,
after arriving at such a highly satisfactory and intelligible point.
We have no official statement of the facts which the reader will find
recorded in the next chapter, but they have been carefully collated
from letters and other MS. authorities, so unquestionably genuine as to
justify their narration in a connected form.



CHAPTER II. THE FIRST DAY'S JOURNEY, AND THE FIRST EVENING'S ADVENTURES;
WITH THEIR CONSEQUENCES


That punctual servant of all work, the sun, had just risen, and begun
to strike a light on the morning of the thirteenth of May, one thousand
eight hundred and twenty-seven, when Mr. Samuel Pickwick burst like
another sun from his slumbers, threw open his chamber window, and looked
out upon the world beneath. Goswell Street was at his feet, Goswell
Street was on his right hand--as far as the eye could reach, Goswell
Street extended on his left; and the opposite side of Goswell Street
was over the way. 'Such,' thought Mr. Pickwick, 'are the narrow views
of those philosophers who, content with examining the things that lie
before them, look not to the truths which are hidden beyond. As well
might I be content to gaze on Goswell Street for ever, without one
effort to penetrate to the hidden countries which on every side surround
it.' And having given vent to this beautiful reflection, Mr. Pickwick
proceeded to put himself into his clothes, and his clothes into his
portmanteau. Great men are seldom over scrupulous in the arrangement of
their attire; the operation of shaving, dressing, and coffee-imbibing
was soon performed; and, in another hour, Mr. Pickwick, with his
portmanteau in his hand, his telescope in his greatcoat pocket, and his
note-book in his waistcoat, ready for the reception of any discoveries
worthy of being noted down, had arrived at the coach-stand in St.
Martin's-le-Grand. 'Cab!' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Here you are, sir,' shouted a strange specimen of the human race, in
a sackcloth coat, and apron of the same, who, with a brass label
and number round his neck, looked as if he were catalogued in some
collection of rarities. This was the waterman. 'Here you are, sir.
Now, then, fust cab!' And the first cab having been fetched from the
public-house, where he had been smoking his first pipe, Mr. Pickwick and
his portmanteau were thrown into the vehicle.

'Golden Cross,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Only a bob's vorth, Tommy,' cried the driver sulkily, for the
information of his friend the waterman, as the cab drove off.

'How old is that horse, my friend?' inquired Mr. Pickwick, rubbing his
nose with the shilling he had reserved for the fare.

'Forty-two,' replied the driver, eyeing him askant.

'What!' ejaculated Mr. Pickwick, laying his hand upon his note-book. The
driver reiterated his former statement. Mr. Pickwick looked very hard
at the man's face, but his features were immovable, so he noted down the
fact forthwith. 'And how long do you keep him out at a time?'inquired
Mr. Pickwick, searching for further information.

'Two or three veeks,' replied the man.

'Weeks!' said Mr. Pickwick in astonishment, and out came the note-book
again.

'He lives at Pentonwil when he's at home,' observed the driver coolly,
'but we seldom takes him home, on account of his weakness.'

'On account of his weakness!' reiterated the perplexed Mr. Pickwick.

'He always falls down when he's took out o' the cab,' continued the
driver, 'but when he's in it, we bears him up werry tight, and takes
him in werry short, so as he can't werry well fall down; and we've got
a pair o' precious large wheels on, so ven he does move, they run after
him, and he must go on--he can't help it.'

Mr. Pickwick entered every word of this statement in his note-book, with
the view of communicating it to the club, as a singular instance of the
tenacity of life in horses under trying circumstances. The entry was
scarcely completed when they reached the Golden Cross. Down jumped the
driver, and out got Mr. Pickwick. Mr. Tupman, Mr. Snodgrass, and Mr.
Winkle, who had been anxiously waiting the arrival of their illustrious
leader, crowded to welcome him.

'Here's your fare,' said Mr. Pickwick, holding out the shilling to the
driver.

What was the learned man's astonishment, when that unaccountable person
flung the money on the pavement, and requested in figurative terms to be
allowed the pleasure of fighting him (Mr. Pickwick) for the amount!

'You are mad,' said Mr. Snodgrass.

'Or drunk,' said Mr. Winkle.

'Or both,' said Mr. Tupman.

'Come on!' said the cab-driver, sparring away like clockwork. 'Come
on--all four on you.'

'Here's a lark!' shouted half a dozen hackney coachmen. 'Go to vork,
Sam!--and they crowded with great glee round the party.

'What's the row, Sam?' inquired one gentleman in black calico sleeves.

'Row!' replied the cabman, 'what did he want my number for?' 'I didn't
want your number,' said the astonished Mr. Pickwick.

'What did you take it for, then?' inquired the cabman.

'I didn't take it,' said Mr. Pickwick indignantly.

'Would anybody believe,' continued the cab-driver, appealing to the
crowd, 'would anybody believe as an informer'ud go about in a man's
cab, not only takin' down his number, but ev'ry word he says into the
bargain' (a light flashed upon Mr. Pickwick--it was the note-book).

'Did he though?' inquired another cabman.

'Yes, did he,' replied the first; 'and then arter aggerawatin' me to
assault him, gets three witnesses here to prove it. But I'll give it
him, if I've six months for it. Come on!' and the cabman dashed his hat
upon the ground, with a reckless disregard of his own private property,
and knocked Mr. Pickwick's spectacles off, and followed up the attack
with a blow on Mr. Pickwick's nose, and another on Mr. Pickwick's chest,
and a third in Mr. Snodgrass's eye, and a fourth, by way of variety,
in Mr. Tupman's waistcoat, and then danced into the road, and then back
again to the pavement, and finally dashed the whole temporary supply of
breath out of Mr. Winkle's body; and all in half a dozen seconds.

'Where's an officer?' said Mr. Snodgrass.

'Put 'em under the pump,' suggested a hot-pieman.

'You shall smart for this,' gasped Mr. Pickwick.

'Informers!' shouted the crowd.

'Come on,' cried the cabman, who had been sparring without cessation the
whole time.

The mob hitherto had been passive spectators of the scene, but as the
intelligence of the Pickwickians being informers was spread among
them, they began to canvass with considerable vivacity the propriety of
enforcing the heated pastry-vendor's proposition: and there is no saying
what acts of personal aggression they might have committed, had not the
affray been unexpectedly terminated by the interposition of a new-comer.

'What's the fun?' said a rather tall, thin, young man, in a green coat,
emerging suddenly from the coach-yard.

'informers!' shouted the crowd again.

'We are not,' roared Mr. Pickwick, in a tone which, to any dispassionate
listener, carried conviction with it. 'Ain't you, though--ain't you?'
said the young man, appealing to Mr. Pickwick, and making his way
through the crowd by the infallible process of elbowing the countenances
of its component members.

That learned man in a few hurried words explained the real state of the
case.

'Come along, then,' said he of the green coat, lugging Mr. Pickwick
after him by main force, and talking the whole way. Here, No. 924,
take your fare, and take yourself off--respectable gentleman--know him
well--none of your nonsense--this way, sir--where's your friends?--all
a mistake, I see--never mind--accidents will happen--best regulated
families--never say die--down upon your luck--Pull him UP--Put that
in his pipe--like the flavour--damned rascals.' And with a lengthened
string of similar broken sentences, delivered with extraordinary
volubility, the stranger led the way to the traveller's waiting-room,
whither he was closely followed by Mr. Pickwick and his disciples.

'Here, waiter!' shouted the stranger, ringing the bell with tremendous
violence, 'glasses round--brandy-and-water, hot and strong, and
sweet, and plenty,--eye damaged, Sir? Waiter! raw beef-steak for the
gentleman's eye--nothing like raw beef-steak for a bruise, sir; cold
lamp-post very good, but lamp-post inconvenient--damned odd standing
in the open street half an hour, with your eye against a
lamp-post--eh,--very good--ha! ha!' And the stranger, without stopping
to take breath, swallowed at a draught full half a pint of the reeking
brandy-and-water, and flung himself into a chair with as much ease as if
nothing uncommon had occurred.

While his three companions were busily engaged in proffering their
thanks to their new acquaintance, Mr. Pickwick had leisure to examine
his costume and appearance.

He was about the middle height, but the thinness of his body, and the
length of his legs, gave him the appearance of being much taller. The
green coat had been a smart dress garment in the days of swallow-tails,
but had evidently in those times adorned a much shorter man than the
stranger, for the soiled and faded sleeves scarcely reached to his
wrists. It was buttoned closely up to his chin, at the imminent hazard
of splitting the back; and an old stock, without a vestige of shirt
collar, ornamented his neck. His scanty black trousers displayed here
and there those shiny patches which bespeak long service, and were
strapped very tightly over a pair of patched and mended shoes, as if to
conceal the dirty white stockings, which were nevertheless distinctly
visible. His long, black hair escaped in negligent waves from beneath
each side of his old pinched-up hat; and glimpses of his bare wrists
might be observed between the tops of his gloves and the cuffs of his
coat sleeves. His face was thin and haggard; but an indescribable air of
jaunty impudence and perfect self-possession pervaded the whole man.

Such was the individual on whom Mr. Pickwick gazed through his
spectacles (which he had fortunately recovered), and to whom he
proceeded, when his friends had exhausted themselves, to return in
chosen terms his warmest thanks for his recent assistance.

'Never mind,' said the stranger, cutting the address very short, 'said
enough--no more; smart chap that cabman--handled his fives well; but if
I'd been your friend in the green jemmy--damn me--punch his head,--'cod
I would,--pig's whisper--pieman too,--no gammon.'


This coherent speech was interrupted by the entrance of the Rochester
coachman, to announce that 'the Commodore' was on the point of starting.

'Commodore!' said the stranger, starting up, 'my coach--place
booked,--one outside--leave you to pay for the brandy-and-water,--want
change for a five,--bad silver--Brummagem buttons--won't do--no go--eh?'
and he shook his head most knowingly.

Now it so happened that Mr. Pickwick and his three companions had
resolved to make Rochester their first halting-place too; and having
intimated to their new-found acquaintance that they were journeying to
the same city, they agreed to occupy the seat at the back of the coach,
where they could all sit together.

'Up with you,' said the stranger, assisting Mr. Pickwick on to the roof
with so much precipitation as to impair the gravity of that gentleman's
deportment very materially.

'Any luggage, Sir?' inquired the coachman. 'Who--I? Brown paper parcel
here, that's all--other luggage gone by water--packing-cases, nailed
up--big as houses--heavy, heavy, damned heavy,' replied the stranger, as
he forced into his pocket as much as he could of the brown paper parcel,
which presented most suspicious indications of containing one shirt and
a handkerchief.

'Heads, heads--take care of your heads!' cried the loquacious stranger,
as they came out under the low archway, which in those days formed
the entrance to the coach-yard. 'Terrible place--dangerous work--other
day--five children--mother--tall lady, eating sandwiches--forgot the
arch--crash--knock--children look round--mother's head off--sandwich
in her hand--no mouth to put it in--head of a family off--shocking,
shocking! Looking at Whitehall, sir?--fine place--little
window--somebody else's head off there, eh, sir?--he didn't keep a sharp
look-out enough either--eh, Sir, eh?'

'I am ruminating,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'on the strange mutability of
human affairs.'

'Ah! I see--in at the palace door one day, out at the window the
next. Philosopher, Sir?' 'An observer of human nature, Sir,' said Mr.
Pickwick.

'Ah, so am I. Most people are when they've little to do and less to get.
Poet, Sir?'

'My friend Mr. Snodgrass has a strong poetic turn,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'So have I,' said the stranger. 'Epic poem--ten thousand
lines--revolution of July--composed it on the spot--Mars by day, Apollo
by night--bang the field-piece, twang the lyre.'

'You were present at that glorious scene, sir?' said Mr. Snodgrass.

'Present! think I was;* fired a musket--fired with an idea--rushed into
wine shop--wrote it down--back again--whiz, bang--another idea--wine
shop again--pen and ink--back again--cut and slash--noble time, Sir.
Sportsman, sir?'abruptly turning to Mr. Winkle.

          * A remarkable instance of the prophetic force of Mr.
          Jingle's imagination; this dialogue occurring in the year
          1827, and the Revolution in 1830.

'A little, Sir,' replied that gentleman.

'Fine pursuit, sir--fine pursuit.--Dogs, Sir?'

'Not just now,' said Mr. Winkle.

'Ah! you should keep dogs--fine animals--sagacious creatures--dog of my
own once--pointer--surprising instinct--out shooting one day--entering
inclosure--whistled--dog stopped--whistled again--Ponto--no go; stock
still--called him--Ponto, Ponto--wouldn't move--dog transfixed--staring
at a board--looked up, saw an inscription--"Gamekeeper has orders to
shoot all dogs found in this inclosure"--wouldn't pass it--wonderful
dog--valuable dog that--very.'

'Singular circumstance that,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'Will you allow me to
make a note of it?'

'Certainly, Sir, certainly--hundred more anecdotes of the same
animal.--Fine girl, Sir' (to Mr. Tracy Tupman, who had been bestowing
sundry anti-Pickwickian glances on a young lady by the roadside).

'Very!' said Mr. Tupman.

'English girls not so fine as Spanish--noble creatures--jet hair--black
eyes--lovely forms--sweet creatures--beautiful.'

'You have been in Spain, sir?' said Mr. Tracy Tupman.

'Lived there--ages.' 'Many conquests, sir?' inquired Mr. Tupman.

'Conquests! Thousands. Don Bolaro Fizzgig--grandee--only daughter--Donna
Christina--splendid creature--loved me to distraction--jealous
father--high-souled daughter--handsome Englishman--Donna Christina
in despair--prussic acid--stomach pump in my portmanteau--operation
performed--old Bolaro in ecstasies--consent to our union--join hands and
floods of tears--romantic story--very.'

'Is the lady in England now, sir?' inquired Mr. Tupman, on whom the
description of her charms had produced a powerful impression.

'Dead, sir--dead,' said the stranger, applying to his right eye the
brief remnant of a very old cambric handkerchief. 'Never recovered the
stomach pump--undermined constitution--fell a victim.'

'And her father?' inquired the poetic Snodgrass.

'Remorse and misery,' replied the stranger. 'Sudden disappearance--talk
of the whole city--search made everywhere without success--public
fountain in the great square suddenly ceased playing--weeks
elapsed--still a stoppage--workmen employed to clean it--water drawn
off--father-in-law discovered sticking head first in the main pipe,
with a full confession in his right boot--took him out, and the fountain
played away again, as well as ever.'

'Will you allow me to note that little romance down, Sir?' said Mr.
Snodgrass, deeply affected.

'Certainly, Sir, certainly--fifty more if you like to hear 'em--strange
life mine--rather curious history--not extraordinary, but singular.'

In this strain, with an occasional glass of ale, by way of parenthesis,
when the coach changed horses, did the stranger proceed, until they
reached Rochester bridge, by which time the note-books, both of Mr.
Pickwick and Mr. Snodgrass, were completely filled with selections from
his adventures.

'Magnificent ruin!' said Mr. Augustus Snodgrass, with all the poetic
fervour that distinguished him, when they came in sight of the fine old
castle.

'What a sight for an antiquarian!' were the very words which fell from
Mr. Pickwick's mouth, as he applied his telescope to his eye.

'Ah! fine place,' said the stranger, 'glorious pile--frowning
walls--tottering arches--dark nooks--crumbling staircases--old cathedral
too--earthy smell--pilgrims' feet wore away the old steps--little
Saxon doors--confessionals like money-takers' boxes at theatres--queer
customers those monks--popes, and lord treasurers, and all sorts of
old fellows, with great red faces, and broken noses, turning up every
day--buff jerkins too--match-locks--sarcophagus--fine place--old
legends too--strange stories: capital;' and the stranger continued to
soliloquise until they reached the Bull Inn, in the High Street, where
the coach stopped.

'Do you remain here, Sir?' inquired Mr. Nathaniel Winkle.

'Here--not I--but you'd better--good house--nice beds--Wright's next
house, dear--very dear--half-a-crown in the bill if you look at the
waiter--charge you more if you dine at a friend's than they would if you
dined in the coffee-room--rum fellows--very.'

Mr. Winkle turned to Mr. Pickwick, and murmured a few words; a whisper
passed from Mr. Pickwick to Mr. Snodgrass, from Mr. Snodgrass to Mr.
Tupman, and nods of assent were exchanged. Mr. Pickwick addressed the
stranger.

'You rendered us a very important service this morning, sir,' said he,
'will you allow us to offer a slight mark of our gratitude by begging
the favour of your company at dinner?'

'Great pleasure--not presume to dictate, but broiled fowl and
mushrooms--capital thing! What time?'

'Let me see,' replied Mr. Pickwick, referring to his watch, 'it is now
nearly three. Shall we say five?'

'Suit me excellently,' said the stranger, 'five precisely--till
then--care of yourselves;' and lifting the pinched-up hat a few inches
from his head, and carelessly replacing it very much on one side, the
stranger, with half the brown paper parcel sticking out of his pocket,
walked briskly up the yard, and turned into the High Street.

'Evidently a traveller in many countries, and a close observer of men
and things,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'I should like to see his poem,' said Mr. Snodgrass.

'I should like to have seen that dog,' said Mr. Winkle.

Mr. Tupman said nothing; but he thought of Donna Christina, the stomach
pump, and the fountain; and his eyes filled with tears.

A private sitting-room having been engaged, bedrooms inspected, and
dinner ordered, the party walked out to view the city and adjoining
neighbourhood.

We do not find, from a careful perusal of Mr. Pickwick's notes of
the four towns, Stroud, Rochester, Chatham, and Brompton, that his
impressions of their appearance differ in any material point from those
of other travellers who have gone over the same ground. His general
description is easily abridged.

'The principal productions of these towns,' says Mr. Pickwick, 'appear
to be soldiers, sailors, Jews, chalk, shrimps, officers, and dockyard
men. The commodities chiefly exposed for sale in the public streets are
marine stores, hard-bake, apples, flat-fish, and oysters. The streets
present a lively and animated appearance, occasioned chiefly by the
conviviality of the military. It is truly delightful to a philanthropic
mind to see these gallant men staggering along under the influence of
an overflow both of animal and ardent spirits; more especially when we
remember that the following them about, and jesting with them, affords a
cheap and innocent amusement for the boy population. Nothing,' adds Mr.
Pickwick, 'can exceed their good-humour. It was but the day before my
arrival that one of them had been most grossly insulted in the house
of a publican. The barmaid had positively refused to draw him any more
liquor; in return for which he had (merely in playfulness) drawn his
bayonet, and wounded the girl in the shoulder. And yet this fine fellow
was the very first to go down to the house next morning and express his
readiness to overlook the matter, and forget what had occurred!

'The consumption of tobacco in these towns,' continues Mr. Pickwick,
'must be very great, and the smell which pervades the streets must be
exceedingly delicious to those who are extremely fond of smoking. A
superficial traveller might object to the dirt, which is their leading
characteristic; but to those who view it as an indication of traffic and
commercial prosperity, it is truly gratifying.'

Punctual to five o'clock came the stranger, and shortly afterwards the
dinner. He had divested himself of his brown paper parcel, but had made
no alteration in his attire, and was, if possible, more loquacious than
ever.

'What's that?' he inquired, as the waiter removed one of the covers.

'Soles, Sir.'

'Soles--ah!--capital fish--all come from London-stage-coach proprietors
get up political dinners--carriage of soles--dozens of baskets--cunning
fellows. Glass of wine, Sir.'

'With pleasure,' said Mr. Pickwick; and the stranger took wine, first
with him, and then with Mr. Snodgrass, and then with Mr. Tupman, and
then with Mr. Winkle, and then with the whole party together, almost as
rapidly as he talked.

'Devil of a mess on the staircase, waiter,' said the stranger. 'Forms
going up--carpenters coming down--lamps, glasses, harps. What's going
forward?'

'Ball, Sir,' said the waiter.

'Assembly, eh?'

'No, Sir, not assembly, Sir. Ball for the benefit of a charity, Sir.'

'Many fine women in this town, do you know, Sir?' inquired Mr. Tupman,
with great interest.

'Splendid--capital. Kent, sir--everybody knows Kent--apples, cherries,
hops, and women. Glass of wine, Sir!'

'With great pleasure,' replied Mr. Tupman. The stranger filled, and
emptied.

'I should very much like to go,' said Mr. Tupman, resuming the subject
of the ball, 'very much.'

'Tickets at the bar, Sir,' interposed the waiter; 'half-a-guinea each,
Sir.'

Mr. Tupman again expressed an earnest wish to be present at the
festivity; but meeting with no response in the darkened eye of Mr.
Snodgrass, or the abstracted gaze of Mr. Pickwick, he applied himself
with great interest to the port wine and dessert, which had just been
placed on the table. The waiter withdrew, and the party were left to
enjoy the cosy couple of hours succeeding dinner.

'Beg your pardon, sir,' said the stranger, 'bottle stands--pass it
round--way of the sun--through the button-hole--no heeltaps,' and he
emptied his glass, which he had filled about two minutes before, and
poured out another, with the air of a man who was used to it.

The wine was passed, and a fresh supply ordered. The visitor talked, the
Pickwickians listened. Mr. Tupman felt every moment more disposed
for the ball. Mr. Pickwick's countenance glowed with an expression
of universal philanthropy, and Mr. Winkle and Mr. Snodgrass fell fast
asleep.

'They're beginning upstairs,' said the stranger--'hear the
company--fiddles tuning--now the harp--there they go.' The various
sounds which found their way downstairs announced the commencement of
the first quadrille.

'How I should like to go,' said Mr. Tupman again.

'So should I,' said the stranger--'confounded luggage,--heavy
smacks--nothing to go in--odd, ain't it?'

Now general benevolence was one of the leading features of the
Pickwickian theory, and no one was more remarkable for the zealous
manner in which he observed so noble a principle than Mr. Tracy Tupman.
The number of instances recorded on the Transactions of the Society, in
which that excellent man referred objects of charity to the houses
of other members for left-off garments or pecuniary relief is almost
incredible. 'I should be very happy to lend you a change of apparel for
the purpose,' said Mr. Tracy Tupman, 'but you are rather slim, and I
am--'

'Rather fat--grown-up Bacchus--cut the leaves--dismounted from the tub,
and adopted kersey, eh?--not double distilled, but double milled--ha!
ha! pass the wine.'

Whether Mr. Tupman was somewhat indignant at the peremptory tone in
which he was desired to pass the wine which the stranger passed so
quickly away, or whether he felt very properly scandalised at an
influential member of the Pickwick Club being ignominiously compared
to a dismounted Bacchus, is a fact not yet completely ascertained. He
passed the wine, coughed twice, and looked at the stranger for several
seconds with a stern intensity; as that individual, however, appeared
perfectly collected, and quite calm under his searching glance, he
gradually relaxed, and reverted to the subject of the ball.

'I was about to observe, Sir,' he said, 'that though my apparel would
be too large, a suit of my friend Mr. Winkle's would, perhaps, fit you
better.'

The stranger took Mr. Winkle's measure with his eye, and that feature
glistened with satisfaction as he said, 'Just the thing.'

Mr. Tupman looked round him. The wine, which had exerted its somniferous
influence over Mr. Snodgrass and Mr. Winkle, had stolen upon the senses
of Mr. Pickwick. That gentleman had gradually passed through the
various stages which precede the lethargy produced by dinner, and its
consequences. He had undergone the ordinary transitions from the height
of conviviality to the depth of misery, and from the depth of misery to
the height of conviviality. Like a gas-lamp in the street, with the wind
in the pipe, he had exhibited for a moment an unnatural brilliancy, then
sank so low as to be scarcely discernible; after a short interval, he
had burst out again, to enlighten for a moment; then flickered with an
uncertain, staggering sort of light, and then gone out altogether. His
head was sunk upon his bosom, and perpetual snoring, with a partial
choke occasionally, were the only audible indications of the great man's
presence.

The temptation to be present at the ball, and to form his first
impressions of the beauty of the Kentish ladies, was strong upon Mr.
Tupman. The temptation to take the stranger with him was equally great.
He was wholly unacquainted with the place and its inhabitants, and the
stranger seemed to possess as great a knowledge of both as if he had
lived there from his infancy. Mr. Winkle was asleep, and Mr. Tupman had
had sufficient experience in such matters to know that the moment he
awoke he would, in the ordinary course of nature, roll heavily to
bed. He was undecided. 'Fill your glass, and pass the wine,' said the
indefatigable visitor.

Mr. Tupman did as he was requested; and the additional stimulus of the
last glass settled his determination.

'Winkle's bedroom is inside mine,' said Mr. Tupman; 'I couldn't make
him understand what I wanted, if I woke him now, but I know he has a
dress-suit in a carpet bag; and supposing you wore it to the ball, and
took it off when we returned, I could replace it without troubling him
at all about the matter.'

'Capital,' said the stranger, 'famous plan--damned odd
situation--fourteen coats in the packing-cases, and obliged to wear
another man's--very good notion, that--very.'

'We must purchase our tickets,' said Mr. Tupman.

'Not worth while splitting a guinea,' said the stranger, 'toss who shall
pay for both--I call; you spin--first time--woman--woman--bewitching
woman,' and down came the sovereign with the dragon (called by courtesy
a woman) uppermost.

Mr. Tupman rang the bell, purchased the tickets, and ordered chamber
candlesticks. In another quarter of an hour the stranger was completely
arrayed in a full suit of Mr. Nathaniel Winkle's.

'It's a new coat,' said Mr. Tupman, as the stranger surveyed himself
with great complacency in a cheval glass; 'the first that's been made
with our club button,' and he called his companions' attention to the
large gilt button which displayed a bust of Mr. Pickwick in the centre,
and the letters 'P. C.' on either side.

'"P. C."' said the stranger--'queer set out--old fellow's likeness, and
"P. C."--What does "P. C." stand for--Peculiar Coat, eh?'

Mr. Tupman, with rising indignation and great importance, explained the
mystic device.

'Rather short in the waist, ain't it?' said the stranger, screwing
himself round to catch a glimpse in the glass of the waist buttons,
which were half-way up his back. 'Like a general postman's coat--queer
coats those--made by contract--no measuring--mysterious dispensations
of Providence--all the short men get long coats--all the long men short
ones.' Running on in this way, Mr. Tupman's new companion adjusted
his dress, or rather the dress of Mr. Winkle; and, accompanied by Mr.
Tupman, ascended the staircase leading to the ballroom.

'What names, sir?' said the man at the door. Mr. Tracy Tupman was
stepping forward to announce his own titles, when the stranger prevented
him.

'No names at all;' and then he whispered Mr. Tupman, 'names won't
do--not known--very good names in their way, but not great ones--capital
names for a small party, but won't make an impression in public
assemblies--incog. the thing--gentlemen from London--distinguished
foreigners--anything.' The door was thrown open, and Mr. Tracy Tupman
and the stranger entered the ballroom.

It was a long room, with crimson-covered benches, and wax candles in
glass chandeliers. The musicians were securely confined in an elevated
den, and quadrilles were being systematically got through by two or
three sets of dancers. Two card-tables were made up in the adjoining
card-room, and two pair of old ladies, and a corresponding number of
stout gentlemen, were executing whist therein.

The finale concluded, the dancers promenaded the room, and Mr. Tupman
and his companion stationed themselves in a corner to observe the
company.

'Charming women,' said Mr. Tupman.

'Wait a minute,' said the stranger, 'fun presently--nobs not come
yet--queer place--dockyard people of upper rank don't know dockyard
people of lower rank--dockyard people of lower rank don't know small
gentry--small gentry don't know tradespeople--commissioner don't know
anybody.'

'Who's that little boy with the light hair and pink eyes, in a fancy
dress?'inquired Mr. Tupman.

'Hush, pray--pink eyes--fancy dress--little boy--nonsense--ensign
97th--Honourable Wilmot Snipe--great family--Snipes--very.'

'Sir Thomas Clubber, Lady Clubber, and the Misses Clubber!' shouted the
man at the door in a stentorian voice. A great sensation was created
throughout the room by the entrance of a tall gentleman in a blue coat
and bright buttons, a large lady in blue satin, and two young ladies, on
a similar scale, in fashionably-made dresses of the same hue.

'Commissioner--head of the yard--great man--remarkably great man,'
whispered the stranger in Mr. Tupman's ear, as the charitable committee
ushered Sir Thomas Clubber and family to the top of the room. The
Honourable Wilmot Snipe, and other distinguished gentlemen crowded to
render homage to the Misses Clubber; and Sir Thomas Clubber stood
bolt upright, and looked majestically over his black kerchief at the
assembled company.

'Mr. Smithie, Mrs. Smithie, and the Misses Smithie,' was the next
announcement.

'What's Mr. Smithie?' inquired Mr. Tracy Tupman.

'Something in the yard,' replied the stranger. Mr. Smithie bowed
deferentially to Sir Thomas Clubber; and Sir Thomas Clubber acknowledged
the salute with conscious condescension. Lady Clubber took a telescopic
view of Mrs. Smithie and family through her eye-glass and Mrs. Smithie
stared in her turn at Mrs. Somebody-else, whose husband was not in the
dockyard at all.

'Colonel Bulder, Mrs. Colonel Bulder, and Miss Bulder,' were the next
arrivals.

'Head of the garrison,' said the stranger, in reply to Mr. Tupman's
inquiring look.

Miss Bulder was warmly welcomed by the Misses Clubber; the greeting
between Mrs. Colonel Bulder and Lady Clubber was of the most
affectionate description; Colonel Bulder and Sir Thomas Clubber
exchanged snuff-boxes, and looked very much like a pair of Alexander
Selkirks--'Monarchs of all they surveyed.'

While the aristocracy of the place--the Bulders, and Clubbers, and
Snipes--were thus preserving their dignity at the upper end of the room,
the other classes of society were imitating their example in other parts
of it. The less aristocratic officers of the 97th devoted themselves to
the families of the less important functionaries from the dockyard. The
solicitors' wives, and the wine-merchant's wife, headed another grade
(the brewer's wife visited the Bulders); and Mrs. Tomlinson, the
post-office keeper, seemed by mutual consent to have been chosen the
leader of the trade party.

One of the most popular personages, in his own circle, present, was a
little fat man, with a ring of upright black hair round his head, and
an extensive bald plain on the top of it--Doctor Slammer, surgeon to
the 97th. The doctor took snuff with everybody, chatted with everybody,
laughed, danced, made jokes, played whist, did everything, and was
everywhere. To these pursuits, multifarious as they were, the little
doctor added a more important one than any--he was indefatigable in
paying the most unremitting and devoted attention to a little old widow,
whose rich dress and profusion of ornament bespoke her a most desirable
addition to a limited income.

Upon the doctor, and the widow, the eyes of both Mr. Tupman and his
companion had been fixed for some time, when the stranger broke silence.

'Lots of money--old girl--pompous doctor--not a bad idea--good fun,'
were the intelligible sentences which issued from his lips. Mr. Tupman
looked inquisitively in his face. 'I'll dance with the widow,' said the
stranger.

'Who is she?' inquired Mr. Tupman.

'Don't know--never saw her in all my life--cut out the doctor--here
goes.' And the stranger forthwith crossed the room; and, leaning
against a mantel-piece, commenced gazing with an air of respectful and
melancholy admiration on the fat countenance of the little old lady. Mr.
Tupman looked on, in mute astonishment. The stranger progressed rapidly;
the little doctor danced with another lady; the widow dropped her
fan; the stranger picked it up, and presented it--a smile--a bow--a
curtsey--a few words of conversation. The stranger walked boldly up to,
and returned with, the master of the ceremonies; a little introductory
pantomime; and the stranger and Mrs. Budger took their places in a
quadrille.

The surprise of Mr. Tupman at this summary proceeding, great as it
was, was immeasurably exceeded by the astonishment of the doctor. The
stranger was young, and the widow was flattered. The doctor's attentions
were unheeded by the widow; and the doctor's indignation was wholly lost
on his imperturbable rival. Doctor Slammer was paralysed. He, Doctor
Slammer, of the 97th, to be extinguished in a moment, by a man whom
nobody had ever seen before, and whom nobody knew even now! Doctor
Slammer--Doctor Slammer of the 97th rejected! Impossible! It could not
be! Yes, it was; there they were. What! introducing his friend! Could he
believe his eyes! He looked again, and was under the painful necessity
of admitting the veracity of his optics; Mrs. Budger was dancing with
Mr. Tracy Tupman; there was no mistaking the fact. There was the widow
before him, bouncing bodily here and there, with unwonted vigour; and
Mr. Tracy Tupman hopping about, with a face expressive of the most
intense solemnity, dancing (as a good many people do) as if a quadrille
were not a thing to be laughed at, but a severe trial to the feelings,
which it requires inflexible resolution to encounter.

Silently and patiently did the doctor bear all this, and all the
handings of negus, and watching for glasses, and darting for biscuits,
and coquetting, that ensued; but, a few seconds after the stranger had
disappeared to lead Mrs. Budger to her carriage, he darted swiftly from
the room with every particle of his hitherto-bottled-up indignation
effervescing, from all parts of his countenance, in a perspiration of
passion.

The stranger was returning, and Mr. Tupman was beside him. He spoke in
a low tone, and laughed. The little doctor thirsted for his life. He was
exulting. He had triumphed.

'Sir!' said the doctor, in an awful voice, producing a card, and
retiring into an angle of the passage, 'my name is Slammer, Doctor
Slammer, sir--97th Regiment--Chatham Barracks--my card, Sir, my card.'
He would have added more, but his indignation choked him.

'Ah!' replied the stranger coolly, 'Slammer--much obliged--polite
attention--not ill now, Slammer--but when I am--knock you up.'

'You--you're a shuffler, sir,' gasped the furious doctor, 'a poltroon--a
coward--a liar--a--a--will nothing induce you to give me your card,
sir!' 'Oh! I see,' said the stranger, half aside, 'negus too strong
here--liberal landlord--very foolish--very--lemonade much better--hot
rooms--elderly gentlemen--suffer for it in the morning--cruel--cruel;'
and he moved on a step or two.

'You are stopping in this house, Sir,' said the indignant little man;
'you are intoxicated now, Sir; you shall hear from me in the morning,
sir. I shall find you out, sir; I shall find you out.'

'Rather you found me out than found me at home,' replied the unmoved
stranger.

Doctor Slammer looked unutterable ferocity, as he fixed his hat on his
head with an indignant knock; and the stranger and Mr. Tupman ascended
to the bedroom of the latter to restore the borrowed plumage to the
unconscious Winkle.

That gentleman was fast asleep; the restoration was soon made. The
stranger was extremely jocose; and Mr. Tracy Tupman, being quite
bewildered with wine, negus, lights, and ladies, thought the whole
affair was an exquisite joke. His new friend departed; and, after
experiencing some slight difficulty in finding the orifice in his
nightcap, originally intended for the reception of his head, and finally
overturning his candlestick in his struggles to put it on, Mr. Tracy
Tupman managed to get into bed by a series of complicated evolutions,
and shortly afterwards sank into repose.

Seven o'clock had hardly ceased striking on the following morning,
when Mr. Pickwick's comprehensive mind was aroused from the state of
unconsciousness, in which slumber had plunged it, by a loud knocking at
his chamber door. 'Who's there?' said Mr. Pickwick, starting up in bed.

'Boots, sir.'

'What do you want?'

'Please, sir, can you tell me which gentleman of your party wears a
bright blue dress-coat, with a gilt button with "P. C." on it?'

'It's been given out to brush,' thought Mr. Pickwick, 'and the man has
forgotten whom it belongs to.' 'Mr. Winkle,'he called out, 'next room
but two, on the right hand.' 'Thank'ee, sir,' said the Boots, and away
he went.

'What's the matter?' cried Mr. Tupman, as a loud knocking at his door
roused hint from his oblivious repose.

'Can I speak to Mr. Winkle, sir?' replied Boots from the outside.

'Winkle--Winkle!' shouted Mr. Tupman, calling into the inner room.
'Hollo!' replied a faint voice from within the bed-clothes.

'You're wanted--some one at the door;' and, having exerted himself to
articulate thus much, Mr. Tracy Tupman turned round and fell fast asleep
again.

'Wanted!' said Mr. Winkle, hastily jumping out of bed, and putting on
a few articles of clothing; 'wanted! at this distance from town--who on
earth can want me?'

'Gentleman in the coffee-room, sir,' replied the Boots, as Mr. Winkle
opened the door and confronted him; 'gentleman says he'll not detain you
a moment, Sir, but he can take no denial.'

'Very odd!' said Mr. Winkle; 'I'll be down directly.'

He hurriedly wrapped himself in a travelling-shawl and dressing-gown,
and proceeded downstairs. An old woman and a couple of waiters were
cleaning the coffee-room, and an officer in undress uniform was looking
out of the window. He turned round as Mr. Winkle entered, and made a
stiff inclination of the head. Having ordered the attendants to retire,
and closed the door very carefully, he said, 'Mr. Winkle, I presume?'

'My name is Winkle, sir.'

'You will not be surprised, sir, when I inform you that I have called
here this morning on behalf of my friend, Doctor Slammer, of the 97th.'

'Doctor Slammer!' said Mr. Winkle.

'Doctor Slammer. He begged me to express his opinion that your conduct
of last evening was of a description which no gentleman could endure;
and' (he added) 'which no one gentleman would pursue towards another.'

Mr. Winkle's astonishment was too real, and too evident, to escape the
observation of Doctor Slammer's friend; he therefore proceeded--'My
friend, Doctor Slammer, requested me to add, that he was firmly
persuaded you were intoxicated during a portion of the evening, and
possibly unconscious of the extent of the insult you were guilty of.
He commissioned me to say, that should this be pleaded as an excuse
for your behaviour, he will consent to accept a written apology, to be
penned by you, from my dictation.'

'A written apology!' repeated Mr. Winkle, in the most emphatic tone of
amazement possible.

'Of course you know the alternative,' replied the visitor coolly.

'Were you intrusted with this message to me by name?' inquired Mr.
Winkle, whose intellects were hopelessly confused by this extraordinary
conversation.

'I was not present myself,' replied the visitor, 'and in consequence of
your firm refusal to give your card to Doctor Slammer, I was desired by
that gentleman to identify the wearer of a very uncommon coat--a bright
blue dress-coat, with a gilt button displaying a bust, and the letters
"P. C."'

Mr. Winkle actually staggered with astonishment as he heard his
own costume thus minutely described. Doctor Slammer's friend
proceeded:--'From the inquiries I made at the bar, just now, I was
convinced that the owner of the coat in question arrived here, with
three gentlemen, yesterday afternoon. I immediately sent up to the
gentleman who was described as appearing the head of the party, and he
at once referred me to you.'

If the principal tower of Rochester Castle had suddenly walked from its
foundation, and stationed itself opposite the coffee-room window, Mr.
Winkle's surprise would have been as nothing compared with the profound
astonishment with which he had heard this address. His first impression
was that his coat had been stolen. 'Will you allow me to detain you one
moment?' said he.

'Certainly,' replied the unwelcome visitor.

Mr. Winkle ran hastily upstairs, and with a trembling hand opened the
bag. There was the coat in its usual place, but exhibiting, on a close
inspection, evident tokens of having been worn on the preceding night.

'It must be so,' said Mr. Winkle, letting the coat fall from his hands.
'I took too much wine after dinner, and have a very vague recollection
of walking about the streets, and smoking a cigar afterwards. The fact
is, I was very drunk;--I must have changed my coat--gone somewhere--and
insulted somebody--I have no doubt of it; and this message is the
terrible consequence.' Saying which, Mr. Winkle retraced his steps in
the direction of the coffee-room, with the gloomy and dreadful resolve
of accepting the challenge of the warlike Doctor Slammer, and abiding by
the worst consequences that might ensue.

To this determination Mr. Winkle was urged by a variety of
considerations, the first of which was his reputation with the club.
He had always been looked up to as a high authority on all matters of
amusement and dexterity, whether offensive, defensive, or inoffensive;
and if, on this very first occasion of being put to the test, he shrunk
back from the trial, beneath his leader's eye, his name and standing
were lost for ever. Besides, he remembered to have heard it frequently
surmised by the uninitiated in such matters that by an understood
arrangement between the seconds, the pistols were seldom loaded with
ball; and, furthermore, he reflected that if he applied to Mr. Snodgrass
to act as his second, and depicted the danger in glowing terms, that
gentleman might possibly communicate the intelligence to Mr. Pickwick,
who would certainly lose no time in transmitting it to the local
authorities, and thus prevent the killing or maiming of his follower.

Such were his thoughts when he returned to the coffee-room, and
intimated his intention of accepting the doctor's challenge.

'Will you refer me to a friend, to arrange the time and place of
meeting?' said the officer.

'Quite unnecessary,' replied Mr. Winkle; 'name them to me, and I can
procure the attendance of a friend afterwards.'

'Shall we say--sunset this evening?' inquired the officer, in a careless
tone.

'Very good,' replied Mr. Winkle, thinking in his heart it was very bad.

'You know Fort Pitt?'

'Yes; I saw it yesterday.'

'If you will take the trouble to turn into the field which borders the
trench, take the foot-path to the left when you arrive at an angle of
the fortification, and keep straight on, till you see me, I will precede
you to a secluded place, where the affair can be conducted without fear
of interruption.'

'Fear of interruption!' thought Mr. Winkle.

'Nothing more to arrange, I think,' said the officer.

'I am not aware of anything more,' replied Mr. Winkle. 'Good-morning.'

'Good-morning;' and the officer whistled a lively air as he strode away.

That morning's breakfast passed heavily off. Mr. Tupman was not in a
condition to rise, after the unwonted dissipation of the previous night;
Mr. Snodgrass appeared to labour under a poetical depression of spirits;
and even Mr. Pickwick evinced an unusual attachment to silence and
soda-water. Mr. Winkle eagerly watched his opportunity: it was not long
wanting. Mr. Snodgrass proposed a visit to the castle, and as Mr. Winkle
was the only other member of the party disposed to walk, they went out
together. 'Snodgrass,' said Mr. Winkle, when they had turned out of
the public street. 'Snodgrass, my dear fellow, can I rely upon your
secrecy?' As he said this, he most devoutly and earnestly hoped he could
not.

'You can,' replied Mr. Snodgrass. 'Hear me swear--'

'No, no,' interrupted Winkle, terrified at the idea of his companion's
unconsciously pledging himself not to give information; 'don't swear,
don't swear; it's quite unnecessary.'

Mr. Snodgrass dropped the hand which he had, in the spirit of poesy,
raised towards the clouds as he made the above appeal, and assumed an
attitude of attention.

'I want your assistance, my dear fellow, in an affair of honour,' said
Mr. Winkle.

'You shall have it,' replied Mr. Snodgrass, clasping his friend's hand.

'With a doctor--Doctor Slammer, of the 97th,' said Mr. Winkle, wishing
to make the matter appear as solemn as possible; 'an affair with an
officer, seconded by another officer, at sunset this evening, in a
lonely field beyond Fort Pitt.'

'I will attend you,' said Mr. Snodgrass.

He was astonished, but by no means dismayed. It is extraordinary how
cool any party but the principal can be in such cases. Mr. Winkle had
forgotten this. He had judged of his friend's feelings by his own.

'The consequences may be dreadful,' said Mr. Winkle.

'I hope not,' said Mr. Snodgrass.

'The doctor, I believe, is a very good shot,' said Mr. Winkle.

'Most of these military men are,' observed Mr. Snodgrass calmly; 'but
so are you, ain't you?' Mr. Winkle replied in the affirmative; and
perceiving that he had not alarmed his companion sufficiently, changed
his ground.

'Snodgrass,' he said, in a voice tremulous with emotion, 'if I fall,
you will find in a packet which I shall place in your hands a note for
my--for my father.'

This attack was a failure also. Mr. Snodgrass was affected, but he
undertook the delivery of the note as readily as if he had been a
twopenny postman.

'If I fall,' said Mr. Winkle, 'or if the doctor falls, you, my dear
friend, will be tried as an accessory before the fact. Shall I involve
my friend in transportation--possibly for life!' Mr. Snodgrass winced
a little at this, but his heroism was invincible. 'In the cause of
friendship,' he fervently exclaimed, 'I would brave all dangers.'

How Mr. Winkle cursed his companion's devoted friendship internally,
as they walked silently along, side by side, for some minutes, each
immersed in his own meditations! The morning was wearing away; he grew
desperate.

'Snodgrass,' he said, stopping suddenly, 'do not let me be balked in
this matter--do not give information to the local authorities--do not
obtain the assistance of several peace officers, to take either me or
Doctor Slammer, of the 97th Regiment, at present quartered in Chatham
Barracks, into custody, and thus prevent this duel!--I say, do not.'

Mr. Snodgrass seized his friend's hand warmly, as he enthusiastically
replied, 'Not for worlds!'

A thrill passed over Mr. Winkle's frame as the conviction that he had
nothing to hope from his friend's fears, and that he was destined to
become an animated target, rushed forcibly upon him.

The state of the case having been formally explained to Mr. Snodgrass,
and a case of satisfactory pistols, with the satisfactory accompaniments
of powder, ball, and caps, having been hired from a manufacturer in
Rochester, the two friends returned to their inn; Mr. Winkle to ruminate
on the approaching struggle, and Mr. Snodgrass to arrange the weapons of
war, and put them into proper order for immediate use.

it was a dull and heavy evening when they again sallied forth on their
awkward errand. Mr. Winkle was muffled up in a huge cloak to escape
observation, and Mr. Snodgrass bore under his the instruments of
destruction.

'Have you got everything?' said Mr. Winkle, in an agitated tone.

'Everything,' replied Mr. Snodgrass; 'plenty of ammunition, in case the
shots don't take effect. There's a quarter of a pound of powder in the
case, and I have got two newspapers in my pocket for the loadings.'

These were instances of friendship for which any man might reasonably
feel most grateful. The presumption is, that the gratitude of Mr. Winkle
was too powerful for utterance, as he said nothing, but continued to
walk on--rather slowly.

'We are in excellent time,' said Mr. Snodgrass, as they climbed the
fence of the first field;'the sun is just going down.' Mr. Winkle looked
up at the declining orb and painfully thought of the probability of his
'going down' himself, before long.

'There's the officer,' exclaimed Mr. Winkle, after a few minutes
walking. 'Where?' said Mr. Snodgrass.

'There--the gentleman in the blue cloak.' Mr. Snodgrass looked in the
direction indicated by the forefinger of his friend, and observed
a figure, muffled up, as he had described. The officer evinced his
consciousness of their presence by slightly beckoning with his hand; and
the two friends followed him at a little distance, as he walked away.

The evening grew more dull every moment, and a melancholy wind sounded
through the deserted fields, like a distant giant whistling for his
house-dog. The sadness of the scene imparted a sombre tinge to the
feelings of Mr. Winkle. He started as they passed the angle of the
trench--it looked like a colossal grave.

The officer turned suddenly from the path, and after climbing a paling,
and scaling a hedge, entered a secluded field. Two gentlemen were
waiting in it; one was a little, fat man, with black hair; and the
other--a portly personage in a braided surtout--was sitting with perfect
equanimity on a camp-stool.

'The other party, and a surgeon, I suppose,' said Mr. Snodgrass; 'take
a drop of brandy.' Mr. Winkle seized the wicker bottle which his friend
proffered, and took a lengthened pull at the exhilarating liquid.

'My friend, Sir, Mr. Snodgrass,' said Mr. Winkle, as the officer
approached. Doctor Slammer's friend bowed, and produced a case similar
to that which Mr. Snodgrass carried.

'We have nothing further to say, Sir, I think,' he coldly remarked, as
he opened the case; 'an apology has been resolutely declined.'

'Nothing, Sir,' said Mr. Snodgrass, who began to feel rather
uncomfortable himself.

'Will you step forward?' said the officer.

'Certainly,' replied Mr. Snodgrass. The ground was measured, and
preliminaries arranged. 'You will find these better than your own,' said
the opposite second, producing his pistols. 'You saw me load them. Do
you object to use them?'

'Certainly not,' replied Mr. Snodgrass. The offer relieved him from
considerable embarrassment, for his previous notions of loading a pistol
were rather vague and undefined.

'We may place our men, then, I think,' observed the officer, with as
much indifference as if the principals were chess-men, and the seconds
players.

'I think we may,' replied Mr. Snodgrass; who would have assented to
any proposition, because he knew nothing about the matter. The officer
crossed to Doctor Slammer, and Mr. Snodgrass went up to Mr. Winkle.

'It's all ready,' said he, offering the pistol. 'Give me your cloak.'

'You have got the packet, my dear fellow,' said poor Winkle. 'All
right,' said Mr. Snodgrass. 'Be steady, and wing him.'

It occurred to Mr. Winkle that this advice was very like that which
bystanders invariably give to the smallest boy in a street fight,
namely, 'Go in, and win'--an admirable thing to recommend, if you only
know how to do it. He took off his cloak, however, in silence--it
always took a long time to undo that cloak--and accepted the pistol. The
seconds retired, the gentleman on the camp-stool did the same, and the
belligerents approached each other.

Mr. Winkle was always remarkable for extreme humanity. It is conjectured
that his unwillingness to hurt a fellow-creature intentionally was the
cause of his shutting his eyes when he arrived at the fatal spot; and
that the circumstance of his eyes being closed, prevented his observing
the very extraordinary and unaccountable demeanour of Doctor Slammer.
That gentleman started, stared, retreated, rubbed his eyes, stared
again, and, finally, shouted, 'Stop, stop!'

'What's all this?' said Doctor Slammer, as his friend and Mr. Snodgrass
came running up; 'that's not the man.'

'Not the man!' said Doctor Slammer's second.

'Not the man!' said Mr. Snodgrass.

'Not the man!' said the gentleman with the camp-stool in his hand.

'Certainly not,' replied the little doctor. 'That's not the person who
insulted me last night.'

'Very extraordinary!' exclaimed the officer.

'Very,' said the gentleman with the camp-stool. 'The only question is,
whether the gentleman, being on the ground, must not be considered, as
a matter of form, to be the individual who insulted our friend, Doctor
Slammer, yesterday evening, whether he is really that individual
or not;' and having delivered this suggestion, with a very sage and
mysterious air, the man with the camp-stool took a large pinch of
snuff, and looked profoundly round, with the air of an authority in such
matters.

Now Mr. Winkle had opened his eyes, and his ears too, when he heard his
adversary call out for a cessation of hostilities; and perceiving by
what he had afterwards said that there was, beyond all question, some
mistake in the matter, he at once foresaw the increase of reputation he
should inevitably acquire by concealing the real motive of his coming
out; he therefore stepped boldly forward, and said--

'I am not the person. I know it.'

'Then, that,' said the man with the camp-stool, 'is an affront to Doctor
Slammer, and a sufficient reason for proceeding immediately.'

'Pray be quiet, Payne,' said the doctor's second. 'Why did you not
communicate this fact to me this morning, Sir?'

'To be sure--to be sure,' said the man with the camp-stool indignantly.

'I entreat you to be quiet, Payne,' said the other. 'May I repeat my
question, Sir?'

'Because, Sir,' replied Mr. Winkle, who had had time to deliberate
upon his answer, 'because, Sir, you described an intoxicated and
ungentlemanly person as wearing a coat which I have the honour, not only
to wear but to have invented--the proposed uniform, Sir, of the Pickwick
Club in London. The honour of that uniform I feel bound to maintain, and
I therefore, without inquiry, accepted the challenge which you offered
me.'

'My dear Sir,' said the good-humoured little doctor advancing with
extended hand, 'I honour your gallantry. Permit me to say, Sir, that I
highly admire your conduct, and extremely regret having caused you the
inconvenience of this meeting, to no purpose.'

'I beg you won't mention it, Sir,' said Mr. Winkle.

'I shall feel proud of your acquaintance, Sir,' said the little doctor.

'It will afford me the greatest pleasure to know you, sir,' replied Mr.
Winkle. Thereupon the doctor and Mr. Winkle shook hands, and then Mr.
Winkle and Lieutenant Tappleton (the doctor's second), and then Mr.
Winkle and the man with the camp-stool, and, finally, Mr. Winkle and Mr.
Snodgrass--the last-named gentleman in an excess of admiration at the
noble conduct of his heroic friend.

'I think we may adjourn,' said Lieutenant Tappleton.

'Certainly,' added the doctor.

'Unless,' interposed the man with the camp-stool, 'unless Mr. Winkle
feels himself aggrieved by the challenge; in which case, I submit, he
has a right to satisfaction.'

Mr. Winkle, with great self-denial, expressed himself quite satisfied
already. 'Or possibly,' said the man with the camp-stool, 'the
gentleman's second may feel himself affronted with some observations
which fell from me at an early period of this meeting; if so, I shall be
happy to give him satisfaction immediately.'

Mr. Snodgrass hastily professed himself very much obliged with the
handsome offer of the gentleman who had spoken last, which he was only
induced to decline by his entire contentment with the whole proceedings.
The two seconds adjusted the cases, and the whole party left the ground
in a much more lively manner than they had proceeded to it.

'Do you remain long here?' inquired Doctor Slammer of Mr. Winkle, as
they walked on most amicably together.

'I think we shall leave here the day after to-morrow,' was the reply.

'I trust I shall have the pleasure of seeing you and your friend at my
rooms, and of spending a pleasant evening with you, after this awkward
mistake,' said the little doctor; 'are you disengaged this evening?'

'We have some friends here,' replied Mr. Winkle, 'and I should not like
to leave them to-night. Perhaps you and your friend will join us at the
Bull.'

'With great pleasure,' said the little doctor; 'will ten o'clock be too
late to look in for half an hour?'

'Oh dear, no,' said Mr. Winkle. 'I shall be most happy to introduce you
to my friends, Mr. Pickwick and Mr. Tupman.'

'It will give me great pleasure, I am sure,' replied Doctor Slammer,
little suspecting who Mr. Tupman was.

'You will be sure to come?' said Mr. Snodgrass.

'Oh, certainly.'

By this time they had reached the road. Cordial farewells were
exchanged, and the party separated. Doctor Slammer and his friends
repaired to the barracks, and Mr. Winkle, accompanied by Mr. Snodgrass,
returned to their inn.



CHAPTER III. A NEW ACQUAINTANCE--THE STROLLER'S TALE--A DISAGREEABLE
INTERRUPTION, AND AN UNPLEASANT ENCOUNTER


Mr. Pickwick had felt some apprehensions in consequence of the unusual
absence of his two friends, which their mysterious behaviour during the
whole morning had by no means tended to diminish. It was, therefore,
with more than ordinary pleasure that he rose to greet them when they
again entered; and with more than ordinary interest that he inquired
what had occurred to detain them from his society. In reply to his
questions on this point, Mr. Snodgrass was about to offer an historical
account of the circumstances just now detailed, when he was suddenly
checked by observing that there were present, not only Mr. Tupman and
their stage-coach companion of the preceding day, but another stranger
of equally singular appearance. It was a careworn-looking man, whose
sallow face, and deeply-sunken eyes, were rendered still more striking
than Nature had made them, by the straight black hair which hung in
matted disorder half-way down his face. His eyes were almost unnaturally
bright and piercing; his cheek-bones were high and prominent; and his
jaws were so long and lank, that an observer would have supposed that he
was drawing the flesh of his face in, for a moment, by some contraction
of the muscles, if his half-opened mouth and immovable expression had
not announced that it was his ordinary appearance. Round his neck he
wore a green shawl, with the large ends straggling over his chest, and
making their appearance occasionally beneath the worn button-holes of
his old waistcoat. His upper garment was a long black surtout; and below
it he wore wide drab trousers, and large boots, running rapidly to seed.

It was on this uncouth-looking person that Mr. Winkle's eye rested, and
it was towards him that Mr. Pickwick extended his hand when he said, 'A
friend of our friend's here. We discovered this morning that our friend
was connected with the theatre in this place, though he is not desirous
to have it generally known, and this gentleman is a member of the same
profession. He was about to favour us with a little anecdote connected
with it, when you entered.'

'Lots of anecdote,' said the green-coated stranger of the day before,
advancing to Mr. Winkle and speaking in a low and confidential tone.
'Rum fellow--does the heavy business--no actor--strange man--all sorts
of miseries--Dismal Jemmy, we call him on the circuit.' Mr. Winkle and
Mr. Snodgrass politely welcomed the gentleman, elegantly designated as
'Dismal Jemmy'; and calling for brandy-and-water, in imitation of the
remainder of the company, seated themselves at the table. 'Now sir,'
said Mr. Pickwick, 'will you oblige us by proceeding with what you were
going to relate?'

The dismal individual took a dirty roll of paper from his pocket, and
turning to Mr. Snodgrass, who had just taken out his note-book, said in
a hollow voice, perfectly in keeping with his outward man--'Are you the
poet?'

'I--I do a little in that way,' replied Mr. Snodgrass, rather taken
aback by the abruptness of the question. 'Ah! poetry makes life what
light and music do the stage--strip the one of the false embellishments,
and the other of its illusions, and what is there real in either to live
or care for?'

'Very true, Sir,' replied Mr. Snodgrass.

'To be before the footlights,' continued the dismal man, 'is like
sitting at a grand court show, and admiring the silken dresses of
the gaudy throng; to be behind them is to be the people who make that
finery, uncared for and unknown, and left to sink or swim, to starve or
live, as fortune wills it.'

'Certainly,' said Mr. Snodgrass: for the sunken eye of the dismal man
rested on him, and he felt it necessary to say something.

'Go on, Jemmy,' said the Spanish traveller, 'like black-eyed Susan--all
in the Downs--no croaking--speak out--look lively.' 'Will you make
another glass before you begin, Sir?' said Mr. Pickwick.

The dismal man took the hint, and having mixed a glass of
brandy-and-water, and slowly swallowed half of it, opened the roll of
paper and proceeded, partly to read, and partly to relate, the following
incident, which we find recorded on the Transactions of the Club as 'The
Stroller's Tale.'


  THE STROLLER'S TALE

'There is nothing of the marvellous in what I am going to relate,' said
the dismal man; 'there is nothing even uncommon in it. Want and sickness
are too common in many stations of life to deserve more notice than is
usually bestowed on the most ordinary vicissitudes of human nature. I
have thrown these few notes together, because the subject of them was
well known to me for many years. I traced his progress downwards, step
by step, until at last he reached that excess of destitution from which
he never rose again.

'The man of whom I speak was a low pantomime actor; and, like many
people of his class, an habitual drunkard. In his better days, before
he had become enfeebled by dissipation and emaciated by disease, he had
been in the receipt of a good salary, which, if he had been careful and
prudent, he might have continued to receive for some years--not many;
because these men either die early, or by unnaturally taxing their
bodily energies, lose, prematurely, those physical powers on which alone
they can depend for subsistence. His besetting sin gained so fast
upon him, however, that it was found impossible to employ him in
the situations in which he really was useful to the theatre. The
public-house had a fascination for him which he could not resist.
Neglected disease and hopeless poverty were as certain to be his
portion as death itself, if he persevered in the same course; yet he did
persevere, and the result may be guessed. He could obtain no engagement,
and he wanted bread. 'Everybody who is at all acquainted with theatrical
matters knows what a host of shabby, poverty-stricken men hang about the
stage of a large establishment--not regularly engaged actors, but ballet
people, procession men, tumblers, and so forth, who are taken on during
the run of a pantomime, or an Easter piece, and are then discharged,
until the production of some heavy spectacle occasions a new demand for
their services. To this mode of life the man was compelled to resort;
and taking the chair every night, at some low theatrical house, at once
put him in possession of a few more shillings weekly, and enabled him to
gratify his old propensity. Even this resource shortly failed him;
his irregularities were too great to admit of his earning the wretched
pittance he might thus have procured, and he was actually reduced to a
state bordering on starvation, only procuring a trifle occasionally by
borrowing it of some old companion, or by obtaining an appearance at one
or other of the commonest of the minor theatres; and when he did earn
anything it was spent in the old way.

'About this time, and when he had been existing for upwards of a year
no one knew how, I had a short engagement at one of the theatres on the
Surrey side of the water, and here I saw this man, whom I had lost sight
of for some time; for I had been travelling in the provinces, and he had
been skulking in the lanes and alleys of London. I was dressed to leave
the house, and was crossing the stage on my way out, when he tapped me
on the shoulder. Never shall I forget the repulsive sight that met my
eye when I turned round. He was dressed for the pantomimes in all the
absurdity of a clown's costume. The spectral figures in the Dance of
Death, the most frightful shapes that the ablest painter ever portrayed
on canvas, never presented an appearance half so ghastly. His bloated
body and shrunken legs--their deformity enhanced a hundredfold by the
fantastic dress--the glassy eyes, contrasting fearfully with the
thick white paint with which the face was besmeared; the
grotesquely-ornamented head, trembling with paralysis, and the long
skinny hands, rubbed with white chalk--all gave him a hideous and
unnatural appearance, of which no description could convey an adequate
idea, and which, to this day, I shudder to think of. His voice was
hollow and tremulous as he took me aside, and in broken words recounted
a long catalogue of sickness and privations, terminating as usual with
an urgent request for the loan of a trifling sum of money. I put a few
shillings in his hand, and as I turned away I heard the roar of laughter
which followed his first tumble on the stage. 'A few nights afterwards,
a boy put a dirty scrap of paper in my hand, on which were scrawled a
few words in pencil, intimating that the man was dangerously ill, and
begging me, after the performance, to see him at his lodgings in some
street--I forget the name of it now--at no great distance from the
theatre. I promised to comply, as soon as I could get away; and after
the curtain fell, sallied forth on my melancholy errand.

'It was late, for I had been playing in the last piece; and, as it was
a benefit night, the performances had been protracted to an unusual
length. It was a dark, cold night, with a chill, damp wind, which blew
the rain heavily against the windows and house-fronts. Pools of water
had collected in the narrow and little-frequented streets, and as many
of the thinly-scattered oil-lamps had been blown out by the violence of
the wind, the walk was not only a comfortless, but most uncertain one. I
had fortunately taken the right course, however, and succeeded, after a
little difficulty, in finding the house to which I had been directed--a
coal-shed, with one Storey above it, in the back room of which lay the
object of my search.

'A wretched-looking woman, the man's wife, met me on the stairs, and,
telling me that he had just fallen into a kind of doze, led me softly
in, and placed a chair for me at the bedside. The sick man was lying
with his face turned towards the wall; and as he took no heed of my
presence, I had leisure to observe the place in which I found myself.

'He was lying on an old bedstead, which turned up during the day. The
tattered remains of a checked curtain were drawn round the bed's head,
to exclude the wind, which, however, made its way into the comfortless
room through the numerous chinks in the door, and blew it to and fro
every instant. There was a low cinder fire in a rusty, unfixed grate;
and an old three-cornered stained table, with some medicine bottles, a
broken glass, and a few other domestic articles, was drawn out before
it. A little child was sleeping on a temporary bed which had been made
for it on the floor, and the woman sat on a chair by its side. There
were a couple of shelves, with a few plates and cups and saucers; and
a pair of stage shoes and a couple of foils hung beneath them. With the
exception of little heaps of rags and bundles which had been carelessly
thrown into the corners of the room, these were the only things in the
apartment.

'I had had time to note these little particulars, and to mark the heavy
breathing and feverish startings of the sick man, before he was aware of
my presence. In the restless attempts to procure some easy resting-place
for his head, he tossed his hand out of the bed, and it fell on mine. He
started up, and stared eagerly in my face.

'"Mr. Hutley, John," said his wife; "Mr. Hutley, that you sent for
to-night, you know."

'"Ah!" said the invalid, passing his hand across his forehead;
"Hutley--Hutley--let me see." He seemed endeavouring to collect his
thoughts for a few seconds, and then grasping me tightly by the wrist
said, "Don't leave me--don't leave me, old fellow. She'll murder me; I
know she will."

'"Has he been long so?" said I, addressing his weeping wife.

'"Since yesterday night," she replied. "John, John, don't you know me?"
'"Don't let her come near me," said the man, with a shudder, as she
stooped over him. "Drive her away; I can't bear her near me." He stared
wildly at her, with a look of deadly apprehension, and then whispered in
my ear, "I beat her, Jem; I beat her yesterday, and many times before.
I have starved her and the boy too; and now I am weak and helpless, Jem,
she'll murder me for it; I know she will. If you'd seen her cry, as I
have, you'd know it too. Keep her off." He relaxed his grasp, and sank
back exhausted on the pillow. 'I knew but too well what all this meant.
If I could have entertained any doubt of it, for an instant, one
glance at the woman's pale face and wasted form would have sufficiently
explained the real state of the case. "You had better stand aside,"
said I to the poor creature. "You can do him no good. Perhaps he will be
calmer, if he does not see you." She retired out of the man's sight. He
opened his eyes after a few seconds, and looked anxiously round.

'"Is she gone?" he eagerly inquired.

'"Yes--yes," said I; "she shall not hurt you."

'"I'll tell you what, Jem," said the man, in a low voice, "she does
hurt me. There's something in her eyes wakes such a dreadful fear in my
heart, that it drives me mad. All last night, her large, staring eyes
and pale face were close to mine; wherever I turned, they turned; and
whenever I started up from my sleep, she was at the bedside looking at
me." He drew me closer to him, as he said in a deep alarmed whisper,
"Jem, she must be an evil spirit--a devil! Hush! I know she is. If she
had been a woman she would have died long ago. No woman could have borne
what she has."

'I sickened at the thought of the long course of cruelty and neglect
which must have occurred to produce such an impression on such a man. I
could say nothing in reply; for who could offer hope, or consolation, to
the abject being before me?

'I sat there for upwards of two hours, during which time he tossed
about, murmuring exclamations of pain or impatience, restlessly throwing
his arms here and there, and turning constantly from side to side. At
length he fell into that state of partial unconsciousness, in which
the mind wanders uneasily from scene to scene, and from place to place,
without the control of reason, but still without being able to divest
itself of an indescribable sense of present suffering. Finding from his
incoherent wanderings that this was the case, and knowing that in all
probability the fever would not grow immediately worse, I left him,
promising his miserable wife that I would repeat my visit next evening,
and, if necessary, sit up with the patient during the night.

'I kept my promise. The last four-and-twenty hours had produced a
frightful alteration. The eyes, though deeply sunk and heavy, shone with
a lustre frightful to behold. The lips were parched, and cracked in many
places; the hard, dry skin glowed with a burning heat; and there was an
almost unearthly air of wild anxiety in the man's face, indicating even
more strongly the ravages of the disease. The fever was at its height.

'I took the seat I had occupied the night before, and there I sat for
hours, listening to sounds which must strike deep to the heart of the
most callous among human beings--the awful ravings of a dying man. From
what I had heard of the medical attendant's opinion, I knew there was
no hope for him: I was sitting by his death-bed. I saw the wasted
limbs--which a few hours before had been distorted for the amusement of
a boisterous gallery, writhing under the tortures of a burning fever--I
heard the clown's shrill laugh, blending with the low murmurings of the
dying man.

'It is a touching thing to hear the mind reverting to the ordinary
occupations and pursuits of health, when the body lies before you weak
and helpless; but when those occupations are of a character the most
strongly opposed to anything we associate with grave and solemn ideas,
the impression produced is infinitely more powerful. The theatre and the
public-house were the chief themes of the wretched man's wanderings. It
was evening, he fancied; he had a part to play that night; it was late,
and he must leave home instantly. Why did they hold him, and prevent
his going?--he should lose the money--he must go. No! they would not let
him. He hid his face in his burning hands, and feebly bemoaned his own
weakness, and the cruelty of his persecutors. A short pause, and he
shouted out a few doggerel rhymes--the last he had ever learned. He
rose in bed, drew up his withered limbs, and rolled about in uncouth
positions; he was acting--he was at the theatre. A minute's silence,
and he murmured the burden of some roaring song. He had reached the old
house at last--how hot the room was. He had been ill, very ill, but he
was well now, and happy. Fill up his glass. Who was that, that dashed it
from his lips? It was the same persecutor that had followed him before.
He fell back upon his pillow and moaned aloud. A short period of
oblivion, and he was wandering through a tedious maze of low-arched
rooms--so low, sometimes, that he must creep upon his hands and knees to
make his way along; it was close and dark, and every way he turned, some
obstacle impeded his progress. There were insects, too, hideous crawling
things, with eyes that stared upon him, and filled the very air around,
glistening horribly amidst the thick darkness of the place. The walls
and ceiling were alive with reptiles--the vault expanded to an enormous
size--frightful figures flitted to and fro--and the faces of men he
knew, rendered hideous by gibing and mouthing, peered out from among
them; they were searing him with heated irons, and binding his head with
cords till the blood started; and he struggled madly for life.

'At the close of one of these paroxysms, when I had with great
difficulty held him down in his bed, he sank into what appeared to be
a slumber. Overpowered with watching and exertion, I had closed my eyes
for a few minutes, when I felt a violent clutch on my shoulder. I awoke
instantly. He had raised himself up, so as to seat himself in bed--a
dreadful change had come over his face, but consciousness had returned,
for he evidently knew me. The child, who had been long since disturbed
by his ravings, rose from its little bed, and ran towards its father,
screaming with fright--the mother hastily caught it in her arms, lest he
should injure it in the violence of his insanity; but, terrified by the
alteration of his features, stood transfixed by the bedside. He grasped
my shoulder convulsively, and, striking his breast with the other hand,
made a desperate attempt to articulate. It was unavailing; he extended
his arm towards them, and made another violent effort. There was a
rattling noise in the throat--a glare of the eye--a short stifled
groan--and he fell back--dead!'


It would afford us the highest gratification to be enabled to record Mr.
Pickwick's opinion of the foregoing anecdote. We have little doubt that
we should have been enabled to present it to our readers, but for a most
unfortunate occurrence.

Mr. Pickwick had replaced on the table the glass which, during the last
few sentences of the tale, he had retained in his hand; and had
just made up his mind to speak--indeed, we have the authority of Mr.
Snodgrass's note-book for stating, that he had actually opened his
mouth--when the waiter entered the room, and said--

'Some gentlemen, Sir.'

It has been conjectured that Mr. Pickwick was on the point of delivering
some remarks which would have enlightened the world, if not the Thames,
when he was thus interrupted; for he gazed sternly on the waiter's
countenance, and then looked round on the company generally, as if
seeking for information relative to the new-comers.

'Oh!' said Mr. Winkle, rising, 'some friends of mine--show them in.
Very pleasant fellows,' added Mr. Winkle, after the waiter had
retired--'officers of the 97th, whose acquaintance I made rather oddly
this morning. You will like them very much.'

Mr. Pickwick's equanimity was at once restored. The waiter returned, and
ushered three gentlemen into the room.

'Lieutenant Tappleton,' said Mr. Winkle, 'Lieutenant Tappleton, Mr.
Pickwick--Doctor Payne, Mr. Pickwick--Mr. Snodgrass you have seen
before, my friend Mr. Tupman, Doctor Payne--Doctor Slammer, Mr.
Pickwick--Mr. Tupman, Doctor Slam--'

Here Mr. Winkle suddenly paused; for strong emotion was visible on the
countenance both of Mr. Tupman and the doctor.

'I have met THIS gentleman before,' said the Doctor, with marked
emphasis.

'Indeed!' said Mr. Winkle.

'And--and that person, too, if I am not mistaken,' said the doctor,
bestowing a scrutinising glance on the green-coated stranger. 'I think I
gave that person a very pressing invitation last night, which he thought
proper to decline.' Saying which the doctor scowled magnanimously on the
stranger, and whispered his friend Lieutenant Tappleton.

'You don't say so,' said that gentleman, at the conclusion of the
whisper.

'I do, indeed,' replied Doctor Slammer.

'You are bound to kick him on the spot,' murmured the owner of the
camp-stool, with great importance.

'Do be quiet, Payne,' interposed the lieutenant. 'Will you allow me to
ask you, sir,' he said, addressing Mr. Pickwick, who was considerably
mystified by this very unpolite by-play--'will you allow me to ask you,
Sir, whether that person belongs to your party?'

'No, Sir,' replied Mr. Pickwick, 'he is a guest of ours.'

'He is a member of your club, or I am mistaken?' said the lieutenant
inquiringly.

'Certainly not,' responded Mr. Pickwick.

'And never wears your club-button?' said the lieutenant.

'No--never!' replied the astonished Mr. Pickwick.

Lieutenant Tappleton turned round to his friend Doctor Slammer, with a
scarcely perceptible shrug of the shoulder, as if implying some doubt of
the accuracy of his recollection. The little doctor looked wrathful, but
confounded; and Mr. Payne gazed with a ferocious aspect on the beaming
countenance of the unconscious Pickwick.

'Sir,' said the doctor, suddenly addressing Mr. Tupman, in a tone which
made that gentleman start as perceptibly as if a pin had been cunningly
inserted in the calf of his leg, 'you were at the ball here last night!'

Mr. Tupman gasped a faint affirmative, looking very hard at Mr. Pickwick
all the while.

'That person was your companion,' said the doctor, pointing to the still
unmoved stranger.

Mr. Tupman admitted the fact.

'Now, sir,' said the doctor to the stranger, 'I ask you once again,
in the presence of these gentlemen, whether you choose to give me your
card, and to receive the treatment of a gentleman; or whether you impose
upon me the necessity of personally chastising you on the spot?'

'Stay, sir,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'I really cannot allow this matter to
go any further without some explanation. Tupman, recount the
circumstances.'

Mr. Tupman, thus solemnly adjured, stated the case in a few words;
touched slightly on the borrowing of the coat; expatiated largely on its
having been done 'after dinner'; wound up with a little penitence on his
own account; and left the stranger to clear himself as best he could.

He was apparently about to proceed to do so, when Lieutenant Tappleton,
who had been eyeing him with great curiosity, said with considerable
scorn, 'Haven't I seen you at the theatre, Sir?'

'Certainly,' replied the unabashed stranger.

'He is a strolling actor!' said the lieutenant contemptuously, turning
to Doctor Slammer.--'He acts in the piece that the officers of the 52nd
get up at the Rochester Theatre to-morrow night. You cannot proceed in
this affair, Slammer--impossible!'

'Quite!' said the dignified Payne.

'Sorry to have placed you in this disagreeable situation,' said
Lieutenant Tappleton, addressing Mr. Pickwick; 'allow me to suggest,
that the best way of avoiding a recurrence of such scenes in future will
be to be more select in the choice of your companions. Good-evening,
Sir!' and the lieutenant bounced out of the room.

'And allow me to say, Sir,' said the irascible Doctor Payne, 'that if I
had been Tappleton, or if I had been Slammer, I would have pulled
your nose, Sir, and the nose of every man in this company. I would,
sir--every man. Payne is my name, sir--Doctor Payne of the 43rd.
Good-evening, Sir.' Having concluded this speech, and uttered the last
three words in a loud key, he stalked majestically after his friend,
closely followed by Doctor Slammer, who said nothing, but contented
himself by withering the company with a look. Rising rage and extreme
bewilderment had swelled the noble breast of Mr. Pickwick, almost to the
bursting of his waistcoat, during the delivery of the above defiance. He
stood transfixed to the spot, gazing on vacancy. The closing of the door
recalled him to himself. He rushed forward with fury in his looks, and
fire in his eye. His hand was upon the lock of the door; in another
instant it would have been on the throat of Doctor Payne of the 43rd,
had not Mr. Snodgrass seized his revered leader by the coat tail, and
dragged him backwards.

'Restrain him,' cried Mr. Snodgrass; 'Winkle, Tupman--he must not peril
his distinguished life in such a cause as this.'

'Let me go,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Hold him tight,' shouted Mr. Snodgrass; and by the united efforts of
the whole company, Mr. Pickwick was forced into an arm-chair. 'Leave
him alone,' said the green-coated stranger; 'brandy-and-water--jolly
old gentleman--lots of pluck--swallow this--ah!--capital stuff.' Having
previously tested the virtues of a bumper, which had been mixed by the
dismal man, the stranger applied the glass to Mr. Pickwick's mouth; and
the remainder of its contents rapidly disappeared.

There was a short pause; the brandy-and-water had done its work; the
amiable countenance of Mr. Pickwick was fast recovering its customary
expression.

'They are not worth your notice,' said the dismal man.

'You are right, sir,' replied Mr. Pickwick, 'they are not. I am ashamed
to have been betrayed into this warmth of feeling. Draw your chair up to
the table, Sir.'

The dismal man readily complied; a circle was again formed round the
table, and harmony once more prevailed. Some lingering irritability
appeared to find a resting-place in Mr. Winkle's bosom, occasioned
possibly by the temporary abstraction of his coat--though it is scarcely
reasonable to suppose that so slight a circumstance can have excited
even a passing feeling of anger in a Pickwickian's breast. With this
exception, their good-humour was completely restored; and the evening
concluded with the conviviality with which it had begun.



CHAPTER IV. A FIELD DAY AND BIVOUAC--MORE NEW FRIENDS--AN INVITATION TO
THE COUNTRY


Many authors entertain, not only a foolish, but a really dishonest
objection to acknowledge the sources whence they derive much valuable
information. We have no such feeling. We are merely endeavouring to
discharge, in an upright manner, the responsible duties of our editorial
functions; and whatever ambition we might have felt under other
circumstances to lay claim to the authorship of these adventures, a
regard for truth forbids us to do more than claim the merit of their
judicious arrangement and impartial narration. The Pickwick papers are
our New River Head; and we may be compared to the New River Company. The
labours of others have raised for us an immense reservoir of important
facts. We merely lay them on, and communicate them, in a clear and
gentle stream, through the medium of these pages, to a world thirsting
for Pickwickian knowledge.

Acting in this spirit, and resolutely proceeding on our determination
to avow our obligations to the authorities we have consulted, we frankly
say, that to the note-book of Mr. Snodgrass are we indebted for the
particulars recorded in this and the succeeding chapter--particulars
which, now that we have disburdened our consciences, we shall proceed to
detail without further comment.

The whole population of Rochester and the adjoining towns rose from
their beds at an early hour of the following morning, in a state of the
utmost bustle and excitement. A grand review was to take place upon the
lines. The manoeuvres of half a dozen regiments were to be inspected by
the eagle eye of the commander-in-chief; temporary fortifications had
been erected, the citadel was to be attacked and taken, and a mine was
to be sprung.

Mr. Pickwick was, as our readers may have gathered from the slight
extract we gave from his description of Chatham, an enthusiastic admirer
of the army. Nothing could have been more delightful to him--nothing
could have harmonised so well with the peculiar feeling of each of his
companions--as this sight. Accordingly they were soon afoot, and walking
in the direction of the scene of action, towards which crowds of people
were already pouring from a variety of quarters.

The appearance of everything on the lines denoted that the approaching
ceremony was one of the utmost grandeur and importance. There were
sentries posted to keep the ground for the troops, and servants on the
batteries keeping places for the ladies, and sergeants running to and
fro, with vellum-covered books under their arms, and Colonel Bulder, in
full military uniform, on horseback, galloping first to one place and
then to another, and backing his horse among the people, and prancing,
and curvetting, and shouting in a most alarming manner, and making
himself very hoarse in the voice, and very red in the face, without any
assignable cause or reason whatever. Officers were running backwards and
forwards, first communicating with Colonel Bulder, and then ordering the
sergeants, and then running away altogether; and even the very privates
themselves looked from behind their glazed stocks with an air of
mysterious solemnity, which sufficiently bespoke the special nature of
the occasion.

Mr. Pickwick and his three companions stationed themselves in the front
of the crowd, and patiently awaited the commencement of the proceedings.
The throng was increasing every moment; and the efforts they were
compelled to make, to retain the position they had gained, sufficiently
occupied their attention during the two hours that ensued. At one time
there was a sudden pressure from behind, and then Mr. Pickwick was
jerked forward for several yards, with a degree of speed and elasticity
highly inconsistent with the general gravity of his demeanour; at
another moment there was a request to 'keep back' from the front, and
then the butt-end of a musket was either dropped upon Mr. Pickwick's
toe, to remind him of the demand, or thrust into his chest, to insure
its being complied with. Then some facetious gentlemen on the left,
after pressing sideways in a body, and squeezing Mr. Snodgrass into the
very last extreme of human torture, would request to know 'vere he vos
a shovin' to'; and when Mr. Winkle had done expressing his excessive
indignation at witnessing this unprovoked assault, some person behind
would knock his hat over his eyes, and beg the favour of his putting his
head in his pocket. These, and other practical witticisms, coupled with
the unaccountable absence of Mr. Tupman (who had suddenly disappeared,
and was nowhere to be found), rendered their situation upon the whole
rather more uncomfortable than pleasing or desirable.

At length that low roar of many voices ran through the crowd which
usually announces the arrival of whatever they have been waiting for.
All eyes were turned in the direction of the sally-port. A few moments
of eager expectation, and colours were seen fluttering gaily in the air,
arms glistened brightly in the sun, column after column poured on to the
plain. The troops halted and formed; the word of command rang through
the line; there was a general clash of muskets as arms were presented;
and the commander-in-chief, attended by Colonel Bulder and numerous
officers, cantered to the front. The military bands struck up
altogether; the horses stood upon two legs each, cantered backwards, and
whisked their tails about in all directions; the dogs barked, the mob
screamed, the troops recovered, and nothing was to be seen on either
side, as far as the eye could reach, but a long perspective of red coats
and white trousers, fixed and motionless.

Mr. Pickwick had been so fully occupied in falling about, and
disentangling himself, miraculously, from between the legs of horses,
that he had not enjoyed sufficient leisure to observe the scene before
him, until it assumed the appearance we have just described. When he
was at last enabled to stand firmly on his legs, his gratification and
delight were unbounded.

'Can anything be finer or more delightful?' he inquired of Mr. Winkle.

'Nothing,' replied that gentleman, who had had a short man standing on
each of his feet for the quarter of an hour immediately preceding. 'It
is indeed a noble and a brilliant sight,' said Mr. Snodgrass, in whose
bosom a blaze of poetry was rapidly bursting forth, 'to see the gallant
defenders of their country drawn up in brilliant array before its
peaceful citizens; their faces beaming--not with warlike ferocity, but
with civilised gentleness; their eyes flashing--not with the rude
fire of rapine or revenge, but with the soft light of humanity and
intelligence.'

Mr. Pickwick fully entered into the spirit of this eulogium, but he
could not exactly re-echo its terms; for the soft light of intelligence
burned rather feebly in the eyes of the warriors, inasmuch as the
command 'eyes front' had been given, and all the spectator saw before
him was several thousand pair of optics, staring straight forward,
wholly divested of any expression whatever.

'We are in a capital situation now,' said Mr. Pickwick, looking round
him. The crowd had gradually dispersed in their immediate vicinity, and
they were nearly alone.

'Capital!' echoed both Mr. Snodgrass and Mr. Winkle.

'What are they doing now?' inquired Mr. Pickwick, adjusting his
spectacles.

'I--I--rather think,' said Mr. Winkle, changing colour--'I rather think
they're going to fire.'

'Nonsense,' said Mr. Pickwick hastily.

'I--I--really think they are,' urged Mr. Snodgrass, somewhat alarmed.

'Impossible,' replied Mr. Pickwick. He had hardly uttered the word, when
the whole half-dozen regiments levelled their muskets as if they had
but one common object, and that object the Pickwickians, and burst forth
with the most awful and tremendous discharge that ever shook the earth
to its centres, or an elderly gentleman off his.

It was in this trying situation, exposed to a galling fire of blank
cartridges, and harassed by the operations of the military, a fresh body
of whom had begun to fall in on the opposite side, that Mr. Pickwick
displayed that perfect coolness and self-possession, which are the
indispensable accompaniments of a great mind. He seized Mr. Winkle by
the arm, and placing himself between that gentleman and Mr. Snodgrass,
earnestly besought them to remember that beyond the possibility of
being rendered deaf by the noise, there was no immediate danger to be
apprehended from the firing.

'But--but--suppose some of the men should happen to have ball cartridges
by mistake,' remonstrated Mr. Winkle, pallid at the supposition he was
himself conjuring up. 'I heard something whistle through the air now--so
sharp; close to my ear.' 'We had better throw ourselves on our faces,
hadn't we?' said Mr. Snodgrass.

'No, no--it's over now,' said Mr. Pickwick. His lip might quiver, and
his cheek might blanch, but no expression of fear or concern escaped the
lips of that immortal man.

Mr. Pickwick was right--the firing ceased; but he had scarcely time
to congratulate himself on the accuracy of his opinion, when a quick
movement was visible in the line; the hoarse shout of the word of
command ran along it, and before either of the party could form a
guess at the meaning of this new manoeuvre, the whole of the half-dozen
regiments, with fixed bayonets, charged at double-quick time down upon
the very spot on which Mr. Pickwick and his friends were stationed. Man
is but mortal; and there is a point beyond which human courage cannot
extend. Mr. Pickwick gazed through his spectacles for an instant on the
advancing mass, and then fairly turned his back and--we will not say
fled; firstly, because it is an ignoble term, and, secondly, because Mr.
Pickwick's figure was by no means adapted for that mode of retreat--he
trotted away, at as quick a rate as his legs would convey him; so
quickly, indeed, that he did not perceive the awkwardness of his
situation, to the full extent, until too late.

The opposite troops, whose falling-in had perplexed Mr. Pickwick a few
seconds before, were drawn up to repel the mimic attack of the sham
besiegers of the citadel; and the consequence was that Mr. Pickwick and
his two companions found themselves suddenly inclosed between two lines
of great length, the one advancing at a rapid pace, and the other firmly
waiting the collision in hostile array.

'Hoi!' shouted the officers of the advancing line.

'Get out of the way!' cried the officers of the stationary one.

'Where are we to go to?' screamed the agitated Pickwickians.

'Hoi--hoi--hoi!' was the only reply. There was a moment of intense
bewilderment, a heavy tramp of footsteps, a violent concussion, a
smothered laugh; the half-dozen regiments were half a thousand yards
off, and the soles of Mr. Pickwick's boots were elevated in air.

Mr. Snodgrass and Mr. Winkle had each performed a compulsory somerset
with remarkable agility, when the first object that met the eyes of
the latter as he sat on the ground, staunching with a yellow silk
handkerchief the stream of life which issued from his nose, was his
venerated leader at some distance off, running after his own hat, which
was gambolling playfully away in perspective.

There are very few moments in a man's existence when he experiences
so much ludicrous distress, or meets with so little charitable
commiseration, as when he is in pursuit of his own hat. A vast deal of
coolness, and a peculiar degree of judgment, are requisite in catching a
hat. A man must not be precipitate, or he runs over it; he must not rush
into the opposite extreme, or he loses it altogether. The best way is to
keep gently up with the object of pursuit, to be wary and cautious, to
watch your opportunity well, get gradually before it, then make a rapid
dive, seize it by the crown, and stick it firmly on your head; smiling
pleasantly all the time, as if you thought it as good a joke as anybody
else.

There was a fine gentle wind, and Mr. Pickwick's hat rolled sportively
before it. The wind puffed, and Mr. Pickwick puffed, and the hat rolled
over and over as merrily as a lively porpoise in a strong tide: and
on it might have rolled, far beyond Mr. Pickwick's reach, had not its
course been providentially stopped, just as that gentleman was on the
point of resigning it to its fate.

Mr. Pickwick, we say, was completely exhausted, and about to give up the
chase, when the hat was blown with some violence against the wheel of a
carriage, which was drawn up in a line with half a dozen other vehicles
on the spot to which his steps had been directed. Mr. Pickwick,
perceiving his advantage, darted briskly forward, secured his property,
planted it on his head, and paused to take breath. He had not been
stationary half a minute, when he heard his own name eagerly pronounced
by a voice, which he at once recognised as Mr. Tupman's, and, looking
upwards, he beheld a sight which filled him with surprise and pleasure.

In an open barouche, the horses of which had been taken out, the better
to accommodate it to the crowded place, stood a stout old gentleman,
in a blue coat and bright buttons, corduroy breeches and top-boots,
two young ladies in scarfs and feathers, a young gentleman apparently
enamoured of one of the young ladies in scarfs and feathers, a lady of
doubtful age, probably the aunt of the aforesaid, and Mr. Tupman, as
easy and unconcerned as if he had belonged to the family from the first
moments of his infancy. Fastened up behind the barouche was a hamper
of spacious dimensions--one of those hampers which always awakens in a
contemplative mind associations connected with cold fowls, tongues, and
bottles of wine--and on the box sat a fat and red-faced boy, in a state
of somnolency, whom no speculative observer could have regarded for an
instant without setting down as the official dispenser of the contents
of the before-mentioned hamper, when the proper time for their
consumption should arrive.

Mr. Pickwick had bestowed a hasty glance on these interesting objects,
when he was again greeted by his faithful disciple.

'Pickwick--Pickwick,' said Mr. Tupman; 'come up here. Make haste.'

'Come along, Sir. Pray, come up,' said the stout gentleman. 'Joe!--damn
that boy, he's gone to sleep again.--Joe, let down the steps.' The fat
boy rolled slowly off the box, let down the steps, and held the carriage
door invitingly open. Mr. Snodgrass and Mr. Winkle came up at the
moment.

'Room for you all, gentlemen,' said the stout man. 'Two inside, and one
out. Joe, make room for one of these gentlemen on the box. Now, Sir,
come along;' and the stout gentleman extended his arm, and pulled first
Mr. Pickwick, and then Mr. Snodgrass, into the barouche by main force.
Mr. Winkle mounted to the box, the fat boy waddled to the same perch,
and fell fast asleep instantly.

'Well, gentlemen,' said the stout man, 'very glad to see you. Know
you very well, gentlemen, though you mayn't remember me. I spent some
ev'nin's at your club last winter--picked up my friend Mr. Tupman here
this morning, and very glad I was to see him. Well, Sir, and how are
you? You do look uncommon well, to be sure.'

Mr. Pickwick acknowledged the compliment, and cordially shook hands with
the stout gentleman in the top-boots.

'Well, and how are you, sir?' said the stout gentleman, addressing
Mr. Snodgrass with paternal anxiety. 'Charming, eh? Well, that's
right--that's right. And how are you, sir (to Mr. Winkle)? Well, I
am glad to hear you say you are well; very glad I am, to be sure. My
daughters, gentlemen--my gals these are; and that's my sister, Miss
Rachael Wardle. She's a Miss, she is; and yet she ain't a Miss--eh, Sir,
eh?' And the stout gentleman playfully inserted his elbow between the
ribs of Mr. Pickwick, and laughed very heartily.

'Lor, brother!' said Miss Wardle, with a deprecating smile.

'True, true,' said the stout gentleman; 'no one can deny it. Gentlemen,
I beg your pardon; this is my friend Mr. Trundle. And now you all
know each other, let's be comfortable and happy, and see what's
going forward; that's what I say.' So the stout gentleman put on his
spectacles, and Mr. Pickwick pulled out his glass, and everybody stood
up in the carriage, and looked over somebody else's shoulder at the
evolutions of the military.

Astounding evolutions they were, one rank firing over the heads of
another rank, and then running away; and then the other rank firing
over the heads of another rank, and running away in their turn; and then
forming squares, with officers in the centre; and then descending the
trench on one side with scaling-ladders, and ascending it on the other
again by the same means; and knocking down barricades of baskets, and
behaving in the most gallant manner possible. Then there was such a
ramming down of the contents of enormous guns on the battery, with
instruments like magnified mops; such a preparation before they were let
off, and such an awful noise when they did go, that the air resounded
with the screams of ladies. The young Misses Wardle were so frightened,
that Mr. Trundle was actually obliged to hold one of them up in the
carriage, while Mr. Snodgrass supported the other; and Mr. Wardle's
sister suffered under such a dreadful state of nervous alarm, that Mr.
Tupman found it indispensably necessary to put his arm round her waist,
to keep her up at all. Everybody was excited, except the fat boy, and he
slept as soundly as if the roaring of cannon were his ordinary lullaby.

'Joe, Joe!' said the stout gentleman, when the citadel was taken, and
the besiegers and besieged sat down to dinner. 'Damn that boy, he's gone
to sleep again. Be good enough to pinch him, sir--in the leg, if you
please; nothing else wakes him--thank you. Undo the hamper, Joe.'

The fat boy, who had been effectually roused by the compression of a
portion of his leg between the finger and thumb of Mr. Winkle, rolled
off the box once again, and proceeded to unpack the hamper with more
expedition than could have been expected from his previous inactivity.

'Now we must sit close,' said the stout gentleman. After a great many
jokes about squeezing the ladies' sleeves, and a vast quantity of
blushing at sundry jocose proposals, that the ladies should sit in the
gentlemen's laps, the whole party were stowed down in the barouche; and
the stout gentleman proceeded to hand the things from the fat boy (who
had mounted up behind for the purpose) into the carriage.

'Now, Joe, knives and forks.' The knives and forks were handed in, and
the ladies and gentlemen inside, and Mr. Winkle on the box, were each
furnished with those useful instruments.

'Plates, Joe, plates.' A similar process employed in the distribution of
the crockery.

'Now, Joe, the fowls. Damn that boy; he's gone to sleep again. Joe!
Joe!' (Sundry taps on the head with a stick, and the fat boy, with some
difficulty, roused from his lethargy.) 'Come, hand in the eatables.'

There was something in the sound of the last word which roused the
unctuous boy. He jumped up, and the leaden eyes which twinkled behind
his mountainous cheeks leered horribly upon the food as he unpacked it
from the basket.

'Now make haste,' said Mr. Wardle; for the fat boy was hanging fondly
over a capon, which he seemed wholly unable to part with. The boy sighed
deeply, and, bestowing an ardent gaze upon its plumpness, unwillingly
consigned it to his master.

'That's right--look sharp. Now the tongue--now the pigeon pie. Take
care of that veal and ham--mind the lobsters--take the salad out of the
cloth--give me the dressing.' Such were the hurried orders which issued
from the lips of Mr. Wardle, as he handed in the different articles
described, and placed dishes in everybody's hands, and on everybody's
knees, in endless number. 'Now ain't this capital?' inquired that jolly
personage, when the work of destruction had commenced.

'Capital!' said Mr. Winkle, who was carving a fowl on the box.

'Glass of wine?'

'With the greatest pleasure.' 'You'd better have a bottle to yourself up
there, hadn't you?'

'You're very good.'

'Joe!'

'Yes, Sir.' (He wasn't asleep this time, having just succeeded in
abstracting a veal patty.)

'Bottle of wine to the gentleman on the box. Glad to see you, Sir.'

'Thank'ee.' Mr. Winkle emptied his glass, and placed the bottle on the
coach-box, by his side.

'Will you permit me to have the pleasure, Sir?' said Mr. Trundle to Mr.
Winkle.

'With great pleasure,' replied Mr. Winkle to Mr. Trundle, and then the
two gentlemen took wine, after which they took a glass of wine round,
ladies and all.

'How dear Emily is flirting with the strange gentleman,' whispered the
spinster aunt, with true spinster-aunt-like envy, to her brother, Mr.
Wardle.

'Oh! I don't know,' said the jolly old gentleman; 'all very natural, I
dare say--nothing unusual. Mr. Pickwick, some wine, Sir?' Mr. Pickwick,
who had been deeply investigating the interior of the pigeon-pie,
readily assented.

'Emily, my dear,' said the spinster aunt, with a patronising air, 'don't
talk so loud, love.'

'Lor, aunt!'

'Aunt and the little old gentleman want to have it all to themselves,
I think,' whispered Miss Isabella Wardle to her sister Emily. The young
ladies laughed very heartily, and the old one tried to look amiable, but
couldn't manage it.

'Young girls have such spirits,' said Miss Wardle to Mr. Tupman, with an
air of gentle commiseration, as if animal spirits were contraband, and
their possession without a permit a high crime and misdemeanour.

'Oh, they have,' replied Mr. Tupman, not exactly making the sort of
reply that was expected from him. 'It's quite delightful.'

'Hem!' said Miss Wardle, rather dubiously.

'Will you permit me?' said Mr. Tupman, in his blandest manner, touching
the enchanting Rachael's wrist with one hand, and gently elevating the
bottle with the other. 'Will you permit me?'

'Oh, sir!' Mr. Tupman looked most impressive; and Rachael expressed her
fear that more guns were going off, in which case, of course, she should
have required support again.

'Do you think my dear nieces pretty?' whispered their affectionate aunt
to Mr. Tupman.

'I should, if their aunt wasn't here,' replied the ready Pickwickian,
with a passionate glance.

'Oh, you naughty man--but really, if their complexions were a
little better, don't you think they would be nice-looking girls--by
candlelight?'

'Yes; I think they would,' said Mr. Tupman, with an air of indifference.

'Oh, you quiz--I know what you were going to say.'

'What?' inquired Mr. Tupman, who had not precisely made up his mind to
say anything at all.

'You were going to say that Isabel stoops--I know you were--you men are
such observers. Well, so she does; it can't be denied; and, certainly,
if there is one thing more than another that makes a girl look ugly it
is stooping. I often tell her that when she gets a little older she'll
be quite frightful. Well, you are a quiz!'

Mr. Tupman had no objection to earning the reputation at so cheap a
rate: so he looked very knowing, and smiled mysteriously.

'What a sarcastic smile,' said the admiring Rachael; 'I declare I'm
quite afraid of you.'

'Afraid of me!'

'Oh, you can't disguise anything from me--I know what that smile means
very well.'

'What?' said Mr. Tupman, who had not the slightest notion himself.

'You mean,' said the amiable aunt, sinking her voice still lower--'you
mean, that you don't think Isabella's stooping is as bad as Emily's
boldness. Well, she is bold! You cannot think how wretched it makes me
sometimes--I'm sure I cry about it for hours together--my dear brother
is SO good, and so unsuspicious, that he never sees it; if he did, I'm
quite certain it would break his heart. I wish I could think it was only
manner--I hope it may be--' (Here the affectionate relative heaved a
deep sigh, and shook her head despondingly).

'I'm sure aunt's talking about us,' whispered Miss Emily Wardle to her
sister--'I'm quite certain of it--she looks so malicious.'

'Is she?' replied Isabella.--'Hem! aunt, dear!'

'Yes, my dear love!'

'I'm SO afraid you'll catch cold, aunt--have a silk handkerchief to
tie round your dear old head--you really should take care of
yourself--consider your age!'

However well deserved this piece of retaliation might have been, it was
as vindictive a one as could well have been resorted to. There is no
guessing in what form of reply the aunt's indignation would have vented
itself, had not Mr. Wardle unconsciously changed the subject, by calling
emphatically for Joe.

'Damn that boy,' said the old gentleman, 'he's gone to sleep again.'

'Very extraordinary boy, that,' said Mr. Pickwick; 'does he always sleep
in this way?'

'Sleep!' said the old gentleman, 'he's always asleep. Goes on errands
fast asleep, and snores as he waits at table.'

'How very odd!' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Ah! odd indeed,' returned the old gentleman; 'I'm proud of that
boy--wouldn't part with him on any account--he's a natural curiosity!
Here, Joe--Joe--take these things away, and open another bottle--d'ye
hear?'

The fat boy rose, opened his eyes, swallowed the huge piece of pie he
had been in the act of masticating when he last fell asleep, and slowly
obeyed his master's orders--gloating languidly over the remains of the
feast, as he removed the plates, and deposited them in the hamper. The
fresh bottle was produced, and speedily emptied: the hamper was made
fast in its old place--the fat boy once more mounted the box--the
spectacles and pocket-glass were again adjusted--and the evolutions of
the military recommenced. There was a great fizzing and banging of guns,
and starting of ladies--and then a Mine was sprung, to the gratification
of everybody--and when the mine had gone off, the military and the
company followed its example, and went off too.

'Now, mind,' said the old gentleman, as he shook hands with Mr. Pickwick
at the conclusion of a conversation which had been carried on at
intervals, during the conclusion of the proceedings, 'we shall see you
all to-morrow.'

'Most certainly,' replied Mr. Pickwick.

'You have got the address?'

'Manor Farm, Dingley Dell,' said Mr. Pickwick, consulting his
pocket-book. 'That's it,' said the old gentleman. 'I don't let you off,
mind, under a week; and undertake that you shall see everything worth
seeing. If you've come down for a country life, come to me, and
I'll give you plenty of it. Joe--damn that boy, he's gone to sleep
again--Joe, help Tom put in the horses.'

The horses were put in--the driver mounted--the fat boy clambered up by
his side--farewells were exchanged--and the carriage rattled off. As the
Pickwickians turned round to take a last glimpse of it, the setting sun
cast a rich glow on the faces of their entertainers, and fell upon the
form of the fat boy. His head was sunk upon his bosom; and he slumbered
again.



CHAPTER V. A SHORT ONE--SHOWING, AMONG OTHER MATTERS, HOW Mr. PICKWICK
UNDERTOOK TO DRIVE, AND Mr. WINKLE TO RIDE, AND HOW THEY BOTH DID IT


Bright and pleasant was the sky, balmy the air, and beautiful the
appearance of every object around, as Mr. Pickwick leaned over the
balustrades of Rochester Bridge, contemplating nature, and waiting for
breakfast. The scene was indeed one which might well have charmed a far
less reflective mind, than that to which it was presented.

On the left of the spectator lay the ruined wall, broken in many places,
and in some, overhanging the narrow beach below in rude and heavy
masses. Huge knots of seaweed hung upon the jagged and pointed stones,
trembling in every breath of wind; and the green ivy clung mournfully
round the dark and ruined battlements. Behind it rose the ancient
castle, its towers roofless, and its massive walls crumbling away, but
telling us proudly of its old might and strength, as when, seven hundred
years ago, it rang with the clash of arms, or resounded with the noise
of feasting and revelry. On either side, the banks of the Medway,
covered with cornfields and pastures, with here and there a windmill, or
a distant church, stretched away as far as the eye could see, presenting
a rich and varied landscape, rendered more beautiful by the changing
shadows which passed swiftly across it as the thin and half-formed
clouds skimmed away in the light of the morning sun. The river,
reflecting the clear blue of the sky, glistened and sparkled as it
flowed noiselessly on; and the oars of the fishermen dipped into the
water with a clear and liquid sound, as their heavy but picturesque
boats glided slowly down the stream.

Mr. Pickwick was roused from the agreeable reverie into which he had
been led by the objects before him, by a deep sigh, and a touch on his
shoulder. He turned round: and the dismal man was at his side.

'Contemplating the scene?' inquired the dismal man. 'I was,' said Mr.
Pickwick.

'And congratulating yourself on being up so soon?'

Mr. Pickwick nodded assent.

'Ah! people need to rise early, to see the sun in all his splendour, for
his brightness seldom lasts the day through. The morning of day and the
morning of life are but too much alike.'

'You speak truly, sir,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'How common the saying,' continued the dismal man, '"The morning's too
fine to last." How well might it be applied to our everyday existence.
God! what would I forfeit to have the days of my childhood restored, or
to be able to forget them for ever!'

'You have seen much trouble, sir,' said Mr. Pickwick compassionately.

'I have,' said the dismal man hurriedly; 'I have. More than those who
see me now would believe possible.' He paused for an instant, and then
said abruptly--

'Did it ever strike you, on such a morning as this, that drowning would
be happiness and peace?'

'God bless me, no!' replied Mr. Pickwick, edging a little from the
balustrade, as the possibility of the dismal man's tipping him over, by
way of experiment, occurred to him rather forcibly.

'I have thought so, often,' said the dismal man, without noticing the
action. 'The calm, cool water seems to me to murmur an invitation to
repose and rest. A bound, a splash, a brief struggle; there is an eddy
for an instant, it gradually subsides into a gentle ripple; the waters
have closed above your head, and the world has closed upon your miseries
and misfortunes for ever.' The sunken eye of the dismal man flashed
brightly as he spoke, but the momentary excitement quickly subsided; and
he turned calmly away, as he said--

'There--enough of that. I wish to see you on another subject. You
invited me to read that paper, the night before last, and listened
attentively while I did so.' 'I did,' replied Mr. Pickwick; 'and I
certainly thought--'

'I asked for no opinion,' said the dismal man, interrupting him, 'and I
want none. You are travelling for amusement and instruction. Suppose I
forward you a curious manuscript--observe, not curious because wild or
improbable, but curious as a leaf from the romance of real life--would
you communicate it to the club, of which you have spoken so frequently?'

'Certainly,' replied Mr. Pickwick, 'if you wished it; and it would be
entered on their transactions.' 'You shall have it,' replied the
dismal man. 'Your address;' and, Mr. Pickwick having communicated their
probable route, the dismal man carefully noted it down in a greasy
pocket-book, and, resisting Mr. Pickwick's pressing invitation to
breakfast, left that gentleman at his inn, and walked slowly away.

Mr. Pickwick found that his three companions had risen, and were waiting
his arrival to commence breakfast, which was ready laid in tempting
display. They sat down to the meal; and broiled ham, eggs, tea, coffee
and sundries, began to disappear with a rapidity which at once bore
testimony to the excellence of the fare, and the appetites of its
consumers.

'Now, about Manor Farm,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'How shall we go?'

'We had better consult the waiter, perhaps,' said Mr. Tupman; and the
waiter was summoned accordingly.

'Dingley Dell, gentlemen--fifteen miles, gentlemen--cross
road--post-chaise, sir?'

'Post-chaise won't hold more than two,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'True, sir--beg your pardon, sir.--Very nice four-wheel chaise,
sir--seat for two behind--one in front for the gentleman that
drives--oh! beg your pardon, sir--that'll only hold three.'

'What's to be done?' said Mr. Snodgrass.

'Perhaps one of the gentlemen would like to ride, sir?' suggested the
waiter, looking towards Mr. Winkle; 'very good saddle-horses, sir--any
of Mr. Wardle's men coming to Rochester, bring 'em back, Sir.'

'The very thing,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'Winkle, will you go on horseback?'

Now Mr. Winkle did entertain considerable misgivings in the very lowest
recesses of his own heart, relative to his equestrian skill; but, as he
would not have them even suspected, on any account, he at once replied
with great hardihood, 'Certainly. I should enjoy it of all things.' Mr.
Winkle had rushed upon his fate; there was no resource. 'Let them be at
the door by eleven,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Very well, sir,' replied the waiter.

The waiter retired; the breakfast concluded; and the travellers ascended
to their respective bedrooms, to prepare a change of clothing, to take
with them on their approaching expedition.

Mr. Pickwick had made his preliminary arrangements, and was looking over
the coffee-room blinds at the passengers in the street, when the waiter
entered, and announced that the chaise was ready--an announcement
which the vehicle itself confirmed, by forthwith appearing before the
coffee-room blinds aforesaid.

It was a curious little green box on four wheels, with a low place like
a wine-bin for two behind, and an elevated perch for one in front, drawn
by an immense brown horse, displaying great symmetry of bone. An hostler
stood near, holding by the bridle another immense horse--apparently a
near relative of the animal in the chaise--ready saddled for Mr. Winkle.

'Bless my soul!' said Mr. Pickwick, as they stood upon the pavement
while the coats were being put in. 'Bless my soul! who's to drive? I
never thought of that.'

'Oh! you, of course,' said Mr. Tupman.

'Of course,' said Mr. Snodgrass.

'I!' exclaimed Mr. Pickwick.

'Not the slightest fear, Sir,' interposed the hostler. 'Warrant him
quiet, Sir; a hinfant in arms might drive him.'

'He don't shy, does he?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.

'Shy, sir?-he wouldn't shy if he was to meet a vagin-load of monkeys
with their tails burned off.'

The last recommendation was indisputable. Mr. Tupman and Mr. Snodgrass
got into the bin; Mr. Pickwick ascended to his perch, and deposited his
feet on a floor-clothed shelf, erected beneath it for that purpose.

'Now, shiny Villiam,' said the hostler to the deputy hostler, 'give the
gen'lm'n the ribbons.' 'Shiny Villiam'--so called, probably, from his
sleek hair and oily countenance--placed the reins in Mr. Pickwick's left
hand; and the upper hostler thrust a whip into his right.

'Wo-o!' cried Mr. Pickwick, as the tall quadruped evinced a decided
inclination to back into the coffee-room window. 'Wo-o!' echoed
Mr. Tupman and Mr. Snodgrass, from the bin. 'Only his playfulness,
gen'lm'n,' said the head hostler encouragingly; 'jist kitch hold on
him, Villiam.' The deputy restrained the animal's impetuosity, and the
principal ran to assist Mr. Winkle in mounting.

'T'other side, sir, if you please.'

'Blowed if the gen'lm'n worn't a-gettin' up on the wrong side,'
whispered a grinning post-boy to the inexpressibly gratified waiter.

Mr. Winkle, thus instructed, climbed into his saddle, with about as
much difficulty as he would have experienced in getting up the side of a
first-rate man-of-war.

'All right?' inquired Mr. Pickwick, with an inward presentiment that it
was all wrong.

'All right,' replied Mr. Winkle faintly.

'Let 'em go,' cried the hostler.--'Hold him in, sir;' and away went the
chaise, and the saddle-horse, with Mr. Pickwick on the box of the
one, and Mr. Winkle on the back of the other, to the delight and
gratification of the whole inn-yard.

'What makes him go sideways?' said Mr. Snodgrass in the bin, to Mr.
Winkle in the saddle.

'I can't imagine,' replied Mr. Winkle. His horse was drifting up the
street in the most mysterious manner--side first, with his head towards
one side of the way, and his tail towards the other.

Mr. Pickwick had no leisure to observe either this or any other
particular, the whole of his faculties being concentrated in the
management of the animal attached to the chaise, who displayed various
peculiarities, highly interesting to a bystander, but by no means
equally amusing to any one seated behind him. Besides constantly jerking
his head up, in a very unpleasant and uncomfortable manner, and tugging
at the reins to an extent which rendered it a matter of great difficulty
for Mr. Pickwick to hold them, he had a singular propensity for darting
suddenly every now and then to the side of the road, then stopping
short, and then rushing forward for some minutes, at a speed which it
was wholly impossible to control.

'What CAN he mean by this?' said Mr. Snodgrass, when the horse had
executed this manoeuvre for the twentieth time.

'I don't know,' replied Mr. Tupman; 'it looks very like shying, don't
it?' Mr. Snodgrass was about to reply, when he was interrupted by a
shout from Mr. Pickwick.

'Woo!' said that gentleman; 'I have dropped my whip.' 'Winkle,' said Mr.
Snodgrass, as the equestrian came trotting up on the tall horse, with
his hat over his ears, and shaking all over, as if he would shake to
pieces, with the violence of the exercise, 'pick up the whip, there's a
good fellow.' Mr. Winkle pulled at the bridle of the tall horse till he
was black in the face; and having at length succeeded in stopping him,
dismounted, handed the whip to Mr. Pickwick, and grasping the reins,
prepared to remount.

Now whether the tall horse, in the natural playfulness of his
disposition, was desirous of having a little innocent recreation with
Mr. Winkle, or whether it occurred to him that he could perform the
journey as much to his own satisfaction without a rider as with one, are
points upon which, of course, we can arrive at no definite and distinct
conclusion. By whatever motives the animal was actuated, certain it is
that Mr. Winkle had no sooner touched the reins, than he slipped them
over his head, and darted backwards to their full length.

'Poor fellow,' said Mr. Winkle soothingly--'poor fellow--good old
horse.' The 'poor fellow' was proof against flattery; the more
Mr. Winkle tried to get nearer him, the more he sidled away; and,
notwithstanding all kinds of coaxing and wheedling, there were Mr.
Winkle and the horse going round and round each other for ten minutes,
at the end of which time each was at precisely the same distance from
the other as when they first commenced--an unsatisfactory sort of thing
under any circumstances, but particularly so in a lonely road, where no
assistance can be procured.

'What am I to do?' shouted Mr. Winkle, after the dodging had been
prolonged for a considerable time. 'What am I to do? I can't get on
him.'

'You had better lead him till we come to a turnpike,' replied Mr.
Pickwick from the chaise.

'But he won't come!' roared Mr. Winkle. 'Do come and hold him.'

Mr. Pickwick was the very personation of kindness and humanity: he
threw the reins on the horse's back, and having descended from his seat,
carefully drew the chaise into the hedge, lest anything should come
along the road, and stepped back to the assistance of his distressed
companion, leaving Mr. Tupman and Mr. Snodgrass in the vehicle.

The horse no sooner beheld Mr. Pickwick advancing towards him with the
chaise whip in his hand, than he exchanged the rotary motion in which he
had previously indulged, for a retrograde movement of so very determined
a character, that it at once drew Mr. Winkle, who was still at the
end of the bridle, at a rather quicker rate than fast walking, in
the direction from which they had just come. Mr. Pickwick ran to his
assistance, but the faster Mr. Pickwick ran forward, the faster the
horse ran backward. There was a great scraping of feet, and kicking up
of the dust; and at last Mr. Winkle, his arms being nearly pulled out of
their sockets, fairly let go his hold. The horse paused, stared, shook
his head, turned round, and quietly trotted home to Rochester, leaving
Mr. Winkle and Mr. Pickwick gazing on each other with countenances of
blank dismay. A rattling noise at a little distance attracted their
attention. They looked up.

'Bless my soul!' exclaimed the agonised Mr. Pickwick; 'there's the other
horse running away!'

It was but too true. The animal was startled by the noise, and the
reins were on his back. The results may be guessed. He tore off with the
four-wheeled chaise behind him, and Mr. Tupman and Mr. Snodgrass in the
four-wheeled chaise. The heat was a short one. Mr. Tupman threw himself
into the hedge, Mr. Snodgrass followed his example, the horse dashed the
four--wheeled chaise against a wooden bridge, separated the wheels from
the body, and the bin from the perch; and finally stood stock still to
gaze upon the ruin he had made.

The first care of the two unspilt friends was to extricate their
unfortunate companions from their bed of quickset--a process which gave
them the unspeakable satisfaction of discovering that they had
sustained no injury, beyond sundry rents in their garments, and
various lacerations from the brambles. The next thing to be done was to
unharness the horse. This complicated process having been effected,
the party walked slowly forward, leading the horse among them, and
abandoning the chaise to its fate.

An hour's walk brought the travellers to a little road-side
public-house, with two elm-trees, a horse trough, and a signpost, in
front; one or two deformed hay-ricks behind, a kitchen garden at the
side, and rotten sheds and mouldering outhouses jumbled in strange
confusion all about it. A red-headed man was working in the garden; and
to him Mr. Pickwick called lustily, 'Hollo there!'

The red-headed man raised his body, shaded his eyes with his hand, and
stared, long and coolly, at Mr. Pickwick and his companions.

'Hollo there!' repeated Mr. Pickwick.

'Hollo!' was the red-headed man's reply.

'How far is it to Dingley Dell?'

'Better er seven mile.'

'Is it a good road?'

'No, 'tain't.' Having uttered this brief reply, and apparently satisfied
himself with another scrutiny, the red-headed man resumed his work. 'We
want to put this horse up here,' said Mr. Pickwick; 'I suppose we
can, can't we?' 'Want to put that ere horse up, do ee?' repeated the
red-headed man, leaning on his spade.

'Of course,' replied Mr. Pickwick, who had by this time advanced, horse
in hand, to the garden rails.

'Missus'--roared the man with the red head, emerging from the garden,
and looking very hard at the horse--'missus!'

A tall, bony woman--straight all the way down--in a coarse, blue
pelisse, with the waist an inch or two below her arm-pits, responded to
the call.

'Can we put this horse up here, my good woman?' said Mr. Tupman,
advancing, and speaking in his most seductive tones. The woman looked
very hard at the whole party; and the red-headed man whispered something
in her ear.

'No,' replied the woman, after a little consideration, 'I'm afeerd on
it.'

'Afraid!' exclaimed Mr. Pickwick, 'what's the woman afraid of?'

'It got us in trouble last time,' said the woman, turning into the
house; 'I woan't have nothin' to say to 'un.'

'Most extraordinary thing I have ever met with in my life,' said the
astonished Mr. Pickwick.

'I--I--really believe,' whispered Mr. Winkle, as his friends gathered
round him, 'that they think we have come by this horse in some dishonest
manner.'

'What!' exclaimed Mr. Pickwick, in a storm of indignation. Mr. Winkle
modestly repeated his suggestion.

'Hollo, you fellow,' said the angry Mr. Pickwick,'do you think we stole
the horse?'

'I'm sure ye did,' replied the red-headed man, with a grin which
agitated his countenance from one auricular organ to the other. Saying
which he turned into the house and banged the door after him.

'It's like a dream,' ejaculated Mr. Pickwick, 'a hideous dream. The idea
of a man's walking about all day with a dreadful horse that he can't get
rid of!' The depressed Pickwickians turned moodily away, with the
tall quadruped, for which they all felt the most unmitigated disgust,
following slowly at their heels.

It was late in the afternoon when the four friends and their four-footed
companion turned into the lane leading to Manor Farm; and even when
they were so near their place of destination, the pleasure they would
otherwise have experienced was materially damped as they reflected
on the singularity of their appearance, and the absurdity of their
situation. Torn clothes, lacerated faces, dusty shoes, exhausted looks,
and, above all, the horse. Oh, how Mr. Pickwick cursed that horse: he
had eyed the noble animal from time to time with looks expressive of
hatred and revenge; more than once he had calculated the probable
amount of the expense he would incur by cutting his throat; and now the
temptation to destroy him, or to cast him loose upon the world, rushed
upon his mind with tenfold force. He was roused from a meditation on
these dire imaginings by the sudden appearance of two figures at a turn
of the lane. It was Mr. Wardle, and his faithful attendant, the fat boy.

'Why, where have you been?' said the hospitable old gentleman; 'I've
been waiting for you all day. Well, you DO look tired. What! Scratches!
Not hurt, I hope--eh? Well, I AM glad to hear that--very. So you've been
spilt, eh? Never mind. Common accident in these parts. Joe--he's asleep
again!--Joe, take that horse from the gentlemen, and lead it into the
stable.'

The fat boy sauntered heavily behind them with the animal; and the old
gentleman, condoling with his guests in homely phrase on so much of the
day's adventures as they thought proper to communicate, led the way to
the kitchen.

'We'll have you put to rights here,' said the old gentleman, 'and then
I'll introduce you to the people in the parlour. Emma, bring out the
cherry brandy; now, Jane, a needle and thread here; towels and water,
Mary. Come, girls, bustle about.'

Three or four buxom girls speedily dispersed in search of the
different articles in requisition, while a couple of large-headed,
circular-visaged males rose from their seats in the chimney-corner (for
although it was a May evening their attachment to the wood fire appeared
as cordial as if it were Christmas), and dived into some obscure
recesses, from which they speedily produced a bottle of blacking, and
some half-dozen brushes.

'Bustle!' said the old gentleman again, but the admonition was quite
unnecessary, for one of the girls poured out the cherry brandy, and
another brought in the towels, and one of the men suddenly seizing Mr.
Pickwick by the leg, at imminent hazard of throwing him off his balance,
brushed away at his boot till his corns were red-hot; while the other
shampooed Mr. Winkle with a heavy clothes-brush, indulging, during the
operation, in that hissing sound which hostlers are wont to produce when
engaged in rubbing down a horse.

Mr. Snodgrass, having concluded his ablutions, took a survey of the
room, while standing with his back to the fire, sipping his cherry
brandy with heartfelt satisfaction. He describes it as a large
apartment, with a red brick floor and a capacious chimney; the ceiling
garnished with hams, sides of bacon, and ropes of onions. The walls were
decorated with several hunting-whips, two or three bridles, a saddle,
and an old rusty blunderbuss, with an inscription below it, intimating
that it was 'Loaded'--as it had been, on the same authority, for half
a century at least. An old eight-day clock, of solemn and sedate
demeanour, ticked gravely in one corner; and a silver watch, of equal
antiquity, dangled from one of the many hooks which ornamented the
dresser.

'Ready?' said the old gentleman inquiringly, when his guests had been
washed, mended, brushed, and brandied.

'Quite,' replied Mr. Pickwick.

'Come along, then;' and the party having traversed several dark
passages, and being joined by Mr. Tupman, who had lingered behind to
snatch a kiss from Emma, for which he had been duly rewarded with sundry
pushings and scratchings, arrived at the parlour door.

'Welcome,' said their hospitable host, throwing it open and stepping
forward to announce them, 'welcome, gentlemen, to Manor Farm.'



CHAPTER VI. AN OLD-FASHIONED CARD-PARTY--THE CLERGYMAN'S VERSES--THE
STORY OF THE CONVICT'S RETURN


Several guests who were assembled in the old parlour rose to greet Mr.
Pickwick and his friends upon their entrance; and during the performance
of the ceremony of introduction, with all due formalities, Mr. Pickwick
had leisure to observe the appearance, and speculate upon the characters
and pursuits, of the persons by whom he was surrounded--a habit in which
he, in common with many other great men, delighted to indulge.

A very old lady, in a lofty cap and faded silk gown--no less a personage
than Mr. Wardle's mother--occupied the post of honour on the right-hand
corner of the chimney-piece; and various certificates of her having been
brought up in the way she should go when young, and of her not having
departed from it when old, ornamented the walls, in the form of samplers
of ancient date, worsted landscapes of equal antiquity, and crimson
silk tea-kettle holders of a more modern period. The aunt, the two young
ladies, and Mr. Wardle, each vying with the other in paying zealous and
unremitting attentions to the old lady, crowded round her easy-chair,
one holding her ear-trumpet, another an orange, and a third a
smelling-bottle, while a fourth was busily engaged in patting and
punching the pillows which were arranged for her support. On the
opposite side sat a bald-headed old gentleman, with a good-humoured,
benevolent face--the clergyman of Dingley Dell; and next him sat
his wife, a stout, blooming old lady, who looked as if she were well
skilled, not only in the art and mystery of manufacturing home-made
cordials greatly to other people's satisfaction, but of tasting them
occasionally very much to her own. A little hard-headed, Ripstone
pippin-faced man, was conversing with a fat old gentleman in one corner;
and two or three more old gentlemen, and two or three more old ladies,
sat bolt upright and motionless on their chairs, staring very hard at
Mr. Pickwick and his fellow-voyagers.

'Mr. Pickwick, mother,' said Mr. Wardle, at the very top of his voice.

'Ah!' said the old lady, shaking her head; 'I can't hear you.'

'Mr. Pickwick, grandma!' screamed both the young ladies together.

'Ah!' exclaimed the old lady. 'Well, it don't much matter. He don't care
for an old 'ooman like me, I dare say.'

'I assure you, ma'am,' said Mr. Pickwick, grasping the old lady's hand,
and speaking so loud that the exertion imparted a crimson hue to his
benevolent countenance--'I assure you, ma'am, that nothing delights me
more than to see a lady of your time of life heading so fine a family,
and looking so young and well.'

'Ah!' said the old lady, after a short pause: 'it's all very fine, I
dare say; but I can't hear him.'

'Grandma's rather put out now,' said Miss Isabella Wardle, in a low
tone; 'but she'll talk to you presently.'

Mr. Pickwick nodded his readiness to humour the infirmities of age,
and entered into a general conversation with the other members of the
circle.

'Delightful situation this,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Delightful!' echoed Messrs. Snodgrass, Tupman, and Winkle.

'Well, I think it is,' said Mr. Wardle.

'There ain't a better spot o' ground in all Kent, sir,' said the
hard-headed man with the pippin--face; 'there ain't indeed, sir--I'm
sure there ain't, Sir.' The hard-headed man looked triumphantly round,
as if he had been very much contradicted by somebody, but had got the
better of him at last.

'There ain't a better spot o' ground in all Kent,' said the hard-headed
man again, after a pause.

''Cept Mullins's Meadows,' observed the fat man solemnly. 'Mullins's
Meadows!' ejaculated the other, with profound contempt.

'Ah, Mullins's Meadows,' repeated the fat man.

'Reg'lar good land that,' interposed another fat man.

'And so it is, sure-ly,' said a third fat man.

'Everybody knows that,' said the corpulent host.

The hard-headed man looked dubiously round, but finding himself in a
minority, assumed a compassionate air and said no more. 'What are they
talking about?' inquired the old lady of one of her granddaughters, in
a very audible voice; for, like many deaf people, she never seemed to
calculate on the possibility of other persons hearing what she said
herself.

'About the land, grandma.'

'What about the land?--Nothing the matter, is there?'

'No, no. Mr. Miller was saying our land was better than Mullins's
Meadows.'

'How should he know anything about it?'inquired the old lady
indignantly. 'Miller's a conceited coxcomb, and you may tell him I said
so.' Saying which, the old lady, quite unconscious that she had spoken
above a whisper, drew herself up, and looked carving-knives at the
hard-headed delinquent.

'Come, come,' said the bustling host, with a natural anxiety to change
the conversation, 'what say you to a rubber, Mr. Pickwick?'

'I should like it of all things,' replied that gentleman; 'but pray
don't make up one on my account.'

'Oh, I assure you, mother's very fond of a rubber,' said Mr. Wardle;
'ain't you, mother?'

The old lady, who was much less deaf on this subject than on any other,
replied in the affirmative.

'Joe, Joe!' said the gentleman; 'Joe--damn that--oh, here he is; put out
the card--tables.'

The lethargic youth contrived without any additional rousing to set out
two card-tables; the one for Pope Joan, and the other for whist. The
whist-players were Mr. Pickwick and the old lady, Mr. Miller and the fat
gentleman. The round game comprised the rest of the company.

The rubber was conducted with all that gravity of deportment and
sedateness of demeanour which befit the pursuit entitled 'whist'--a
solemn observance, to which, as it appears to us, the title of 'game'
has been very irreverently and ignominiously applied. The round-game
table, on the other hand, was so boisterously merry as materially to
interrupt the contemplations of Mr. Miller, who, not being quite so
much absorbed as he ought to have been, contrived to commit various high
crimes and misdemeanours, which excited the wrath of the fat gentleman
to a very great extent, and called forth the good-humour of the old lady
in a proportionate degree.

'There!' said the criminal Miller triumphantly, as he took up the odd
trick at the conclusion of a hand; 'that could not have been played
better, I flatter myself; impossible to have made another trick!'

'Miller ought to have trumped the diamond, oughtn't he, Sir?' said the
old lady.

Mr. Pickwick nodded assent.

'Ought I, though?' said the unfortunate, with a doubtful appeal to his
partner.

'You ought, Sir,' said the fat gentleman, in an awful voice.

'Very sorry,' said the crestfallen Miller.

'Much use that,' growled the fat gentleman.

'Two by honours--makes us eight,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Another hand. 'Can you one?' inquired the old lady.

'I can,' replied Mr. Pickwick. 'Double, single, and the rub.'

'Never was such luck,' said Mr. Miller.

'Never was such cards,' said the fat gentleman.

A solemn silence; Mr. Pickwick humorous, the old lady serious, the fat
gentleman captious, and Mr. Miller timorous.

'Another double,' said the old lady, triumphantly making a memorandum of
the circumstance, by placing one sixpence and a battered halfpenny under
the candlestick.

'A double, sir,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Quite aware of the fact, Sir,' replied the fat gentleman sharply.

Another game, with a similar result, was followed by a revoke from the
unlucky Miller; on which the fat gentleman burst into a state of high
personal excitement which lasted until the conclusion of the game, when
he retired into a corner, and remained perfectly mute for one hour
and twenty-seven minutes; at the end of which time he emerged from his
retirement, and offered Mr. Pickwick a pinch of snuff with the air of
a man who had made up his mind to a Christian forgiveness of injuries
sustained. The old lady's hearing decidedly improved and the unlucky
Miller felt as much out of his element as a dolphin in a sentry-box.

Meanwhile the round game proceeded right merrily. Isabella Wardle and
Mr. Trundle 'went partners,' and Emily Wardle and Mr. Snodgrass did
the same; and even Mr. Tupman and the spinster aunt established a
joint-stock company of fish and flattery. Old Mr. Wardle was in the
very height of his jollity; and he was so funny in his management of the
board, and the old ladies were so sharp after their winnings, that the
whole table was in a perpetual roar of merriment and laughter. There
was one old lady who always had about half a dozen cards to pay for, at
which everybody laughed, regularly every round; and when the old lady
looked cross at having to pay, they laughed louder than ever; on which
the old lady's face gradually brightened up, till at last she laughed
louder than any of them, Then, when the spinster aunt got 'matrimony,'
the young ladies laughed afresh, and the Spinster aunt seemed disposed
to be pettish; till, feeling Mr. Tupman squeezing her hand under the
table, she brightened up too, and looked rather knowing, as if matrimony
in reality were not quite so far off as some people thought for;
whereupon everybody laughed again, and especially old Mr. Wardle, who
enjoyed a joke as much as the youngest. As to Mr. Snodgrass, he did
nothing but whisper poetical sentiments into his partner's ear, which
made one old gentleman facetiously sly, about partnerships at cards and
partnerships for life, and caused the aforesaid old gentleman to make
some remarks thereupon, accompanied with divers winks and chuckles,
which made the company very merry and the old gentleman's wife
especially so. And Mr. Winkle came out with jokes which are very well
known in town, but are not all known in the country; and as everybody
laughed at them very heartily, and said they were very capital, Mr.
Winkle was in a state of great honour and glory. And the benevolent
clergyman looked pleasantly on; for the happy faces which surrounded the
table made the good old man feel happy too; and though the merriment was
rather boisterous, still it came from the heart and not from the lips;
and this is the right sort of merriment, after all.

The evening glided swiftly away, in these cheerful recreations; and when
the substantial though homely supper had been despatched, and the little
party formed a social circle round the fire, Mr. Pickwick thought he
had never felt so happy in his life, and at no time so much disposed to
enjoy, and make the most of, the passing moment.

'Now this,' said the hospitable host, who was sitting in great state
next the old lady's arm-chair, with her hand fast clasped in his--'this
is just what I like--the happiest moments of my life have been passed at
this old fireside; and I am so attached to it, that I keep up a blazing
fire here every evening, until it actually grows too hot to bear it.
Why, my poor old mother, here, used to sit before this fireplace upon
that little stool when she was a girl; didn't you, mother?'

The tear which starts unbidden to the eye when the recollection of old
times and the happiness of many years ago is suddenly recalled, stole
down the old lady's face as she shook her head with a melancholy smile.

'You must excuse my talking about this old place, Mr. Pickwick,' resumed
the host, after a short pause, 'for I love it dearly, and know no
other--the old houses and fields seem like living friends to me; and
so does our little church with the ivy, about which, by the bye, our
excellent friend there made a song when he first came amongst us. Mr.
Snodgrass, have you anything in your glass?'

'Plenty, thank you,' replied that gentleman, whose poetic curiosity had
been greatly excited by the last observation of his entertainer. 'I beg
your pardon, but you were talking about the song of the Ivy.'

'You must ask our friend opposite about that,' said the host knowingly,
indicating the clergyman by a nod of his head.

'May I say that I should like to hear you repeat it, sir?' said Mr.
Snodgrass.

'Why, really,' replied the clergyman, 'it's a very slight affair; and
the only excuse I have for having ever perpetrated it is, that I was a
young man at the time. Such as it is, however, you shall hear it, if you
wish.'

A murmur of curiosity was of course the reply; and the old gentleman
proceeded to recite, with the aid of sundry promptings from his wife,
the lines in question. 'I call them,' said he,


       THE IVY GREEN

     Oh, a dainty plant is the Ivy green,
     That creepeth o'er ruins old!
     Of right choice food are his meals, I ween,
     In his cell so lone and cold.
     The wall must be crumbled, the stone decayed,
     To pleasure his dainty whim;
     And the mouldering dust that years have made,
     Is a merry meal for him.
          Creeping where no life is seen,
          A rare old plant is the Ivy green.

     Fast he stealeth on, though he wears no wings,
     And a staunch old heart has he.
     How closely he twineth, how tight he clings
     To his friend the huge Oak Tree!
     And slily he traileth along the ground,
     And his leaves he gently waves,
     As he joyously hugs and crawleth round
     The rich mould of dead men's graves.
          Creeping where grim death has been,
          A rare old plant is the Ivy green.

     Whole ages have fled and their works decayed,
     And nations have scattered been;
     But the stout old Ivy shall never fade,
     From its hale and hearty green.
     The brave old plant in its lonely days,
     Shall fatten upon the past;
     For the stateliest building man can raise,
     Is the Ivy's food at last.
          Creeping on where time has been,
          A rare old plant is the Ivy green.


While the old gentleman repeated these lines a second time, to enable
Mr. Snodgrass to note them down, Mr. Pickwick perused the lineaments of
his face with an expression of great interest. The old gentleman having
concluded his dictation, and Mr. Snodgrass having returned his note-book
to his pocket, Mr. Pickwick said--

'Excuse me, sir, for making the remark on so short an acquaintance; but
a gentleman like yourself cannot fail, I should think, to have observed
many scenes and incidents worth recording, in the course of your
experience as a minister of the Gospel.'

'I have witnessed some certainly,' replied the old gentleman, 'but the
incidents and characters have been of a homely and ordinary nature, my
sphere of action being so very limited.'

'You did make some notes, I think, about John Edmunds, did you not?'
inquired Mr. Wardle, who appeared very desirous to draw his friend out,
for the edification of his new visitors.

The old gentleman slightly nodded his head in token of assent, and was
proceeding to change the subject, when Mr. Pickwick said--

'I beg your pardon, sir, but pray, if I may venture to inquire, who was
John Edmunds?'

'The very thing I was about to ask,' said Mr. Snodgrass eagerly.

'You are fairly in for it,' said the jolly host. 'You must satisfy the
curiosity of these gentlemen, sooner or later; so you had better take
advantage of this favourable opportunity, and do so at once.'

The old gentleman smiled good-humouredly as he drew his chair
forward--the remainder of the party drew their chairs closer together,
especially Mr. Tupman and the spinster aunt, who were possibly rather
hard of hearing; and the old lady's ear-trumpet having been duly
adjusted, and Mr. Miller (who had fallen asleep during the recital
of the verses) roused from his slumbers by an admonitory pinch,
administered beneath the table by his ex-partner the solemn fat man, the
old gentleman, without further preface, commenced the following tale, to
which we have taken the liberty of prefixing the title of


  THE CONVICT'S RETURN

'When I first settled in this village,' said the old gentleman, 'which
is now just five-and-twenty years ago, the most notorious person among
my parishioners was a man of the name of Edmunds, who leased a small
farm near this spot. He was a morose, savage-hearted, bad man; idle and
dissolute in his habits; cruel and ferocious in his disposition. Beyond
the few lazy and reckless vagabonds with whom he sauntered away his time
in the fields, or sotted in the ale-house, he had not a single friend
or acquaintance; no one cared to speak to the man whom many feared, and
every one detested--and Edmunds was shunned by all.

'This man had a wife and one son, who, when I first came here, was about
twelve years old. Of the acuteness of that woman's sufferings, of the
gentle and enduring manner in which she bore them, of the agony of
solicitude with which she reared that boy, no one can form an adequate
conception. Heaven forgive me the supposition, if it be an uncharitable
one, but I do firmly and in my soul believe, that the man systematically
tried for many years to break her heart; but she bore it all for her
child's sake, and, however strange it may seem to many, for his father's
too; for brute as he was, and cruelly as he had treated her, she
had loved him once; and the recollection of what he had been to her,
awakened feelings of forbearance and meekness under suffering in her
bosom, to which all God's creatures, but women, are strangers.

'They were poor--they could not be otherwise when the man pursued such
courses; but the woman's unceasing and unwearied exertions, early and
late, morning, noon, and night, kept them above actual want. These
exertions were but ill repaid. People who passed the spot in the
evening--sometimes at a late hour of the night--reported that they had
heard the moans and sobs of a woman in distress, and the sound of blows;
and more than once, when it was past midnight, the boy knocked softly at
the door of a neighbour's house, whither he had been sent, to escape the
drunken fury of his unnatural father.

'During the whole of this time, and when the poor creature often bore
about her marks of ill-usage and violence which she could not wholly
conceal, she was a constant attendant at our little church. Regularly
every Sunday, morning and afternoon, she occupied the same seat with the
boy at her side; and though they were both poorly dressed--much more
so than many of their neighbours who were in a lower station--they were
always neat and clean. Every one had a friendly nod and a kind word for
"poor Mrs. Edmunds"; and sometimes, when she stopped to exchange a few
words with a neighbour at the conclusion of the service in the little
row of elm-trees which leads to the church porch, or lingered behind
to gaze with a mother's pride and fondness upon her healthy boy, as he
sported before her with some little companions, her careworn face would
lighten up with an expression of heartfelt gratitude; and she would
look, if not cheerful and happy, at least tranquil and contented.

'Five or six years passed away; the boy had become a robust and
well-grown youth. The time that had strengthened the child's slight
frame and knit his weak limbs into the strength of manhood had bowed
his mother's form, and enfeebled her steps; but the arm that should have
supported her was no longer locked in hers; the face that should have
cheered her, no more looked upon her own. She occupied her old seat, but
there was a vacant one beside her. The Bible was kept as carefully as
ever, the places were found and folded down as they used to be: but
there was no one to read it with her; and the tears fell thick and fast
upon the book, and blotted the words from her eyes. Neighbours were as
kind as they were wont to be of old, but she shunned their greetings
with averted head. There was no lingering among the old elm-trees now-no
cheering anticipations of happiness yet in store. The desolate woman
drew her bonnet closer over her face, and walked hurriedly away.

'Shall I tell you that the young man, who, looking back to the earliest
of his childhood's days to which memory and consciousness extended, and
carrying his recollection down to that moment, could remember nothing
which was not in some way connected with a long series of voluntary
privations suffered by his mother for his sake, with ill-usage, and
insult, and violence, and all endured for him--shall I tell you, that
he, with a reckless disregard for her breaking heart, and a sullen,
wilful forgetfulness of all she had done and borne for him, had linked
himself with depraved and abandoned men, and was madly pursuing a
headlong career, which must bring death to him, and shame to her? Alas
for human nature! You have anticipated it long since.

'The measure of the unhappy woman's misery and misfortune was about to
be completed. Numerous offences had been committed in the neighbourhood;
the perpetrators remained undiscovered, and their boldness increased.
A robbery of a daring and aggravated nature occasioned a vigilance of
pursuit, and a strictness of search, they had not calculated on.
Young Edmunds was suspected, with three companions. He was
apprehended--committed--tried--condemned--to die. 'The wild and piercing
shriek from a woman's voice, which resounded through the court when the
solemn sentence was pronounced, rings in my ears at this moment.
That cry struck a terror to the culprit's heart, which trial,
condemnation--the approach of death itself, had failed to awaken. The
lips which had been compressed in dogged sullenness throughout,
quivered and parted involuntarily; the face turned ashy pale as the cold
perspiration broke forth from every pore; the sturdy limbs of the felon
trembled, and he staggered in the dock.

'In the first transports of her mental anguish, the suffering mother
threw herself on her knees at my feet, and fervently sought the Almighty
Being who had hitherto supported her in all her troubles to release her
from a world of woe and misery, and to spare the life of her only child.
A burst of grief, and a violent struggle, such as I hope I may never
have to witness again, succeeded. I knew that her heart was breaking
from that hour; but I never once heard complaint or murmur escape her
lips. 'It was a piteous spectacle to see that woman in the prison-yard
from day to day, eagerly and fervently attempting, by affection and
entreaty, to soften the hard heart of her obdurate son. It was in vain.
He remained moody, obstinate, and unmoved. Not even the unlooked-for
commutation of his sentence to transportation for fourteen years,
softened for an instant the sullen hardihood of his demeanour.

'But the spirit of resignation and endurance that had so long upheld
her, was unable to contend against bodily weakness and infirmity. She
fell sick. She dragged her tottering limbs from the bed to visit her son
once more, but her strength failed her, and she sank powerless on the
ground.

'And now the boasted coldness and indifference of the young man were
tested indeed; and the retribution that fell heavily upon him nearly
drove him mad. A day passed away and his mother was not there; another
flew by, and she came not near him; a third evening arrived, and yet he
had not seen her--, and in four-and-twenty hours he was to be separated
from her, perhaps for ever. Oh! how the long-forgotten thoughts of
former days rushed upon his mind, as he almost ran up and down the
narrow yard--as if intelligence would arrive the sooner for his
hurrying--and how bitterly a sense of his helplessness and desolation
rushed upon him, when he heard the truth! His mother, the only parent
he had ever known, lay ill--it might be, dying--within one mile of the
ground he stood on; were he free and unfettered, a few minutes would
place him by her side. He rushed to the gate, and grasping the iron
rails with the energy of desperation, shook it till it rang again, and
threw himself against the thick wall as if to force a passage through
the stone; but the strong building mocked his feeble efforts, and he
beat his hands together and wept like a child.

'I bore the mother's forgiveness and blessing to her son in prison;
and I carried the solemn assurance of repentance, and his fervent
supplication for pardon, to her sick-bed. I heard, with pity and
compassion, the repentant man devise a thousand little plans for her
comfort and support when he returned; but I knew that many months before
he could reach his place of destination, his mother would be no longer
of this world. 'He was removed by night. A few weeks afterwards the poor
woman's soul took its flight, I confidently hope, and solemnly believe,
to a place of eternal happiness and rest. I performed the burial service
over her remains. She lies in our little churchyard. There is no stone
at her grave's head. Her sorrows were known to man; her virtues to God.
'it had been arranged previously to the convict's departure, that he
should write to his mother as soon as he could obtain permission, and
that the letter should be addressed to me. The father had positively
refused to see his son from the moment of his apprehension; and it was
a matter of indifference to him whether he lived or died. Many years
passed over without any intelligence of him; and when more than half
his term of transportation had expired, and I had received no letter, I
concluded him to be dead, as, indeed, I almost hoped he might be.

'Edmunds, however, had been sent a considerable distance up the country
on his arrival at the settlement; and to this circumstance, perhaps,
may be attributed the fact, that though several letters were despatched,
none of them ever reached my hands. He remained in the same place
during the whole fourteen years. At the expiration of the term, steadily
adhering to his old resolution and the pledge he gave his mother,
he made his way back to England amidst innumerable difficulties, and
returned, on foot, to his native place.

'On a fine Sunday evening, in the month of August, John Edmunds set
foot in the village he had left with shame and disgrace seventeen years
before. His nearest way lay through the churchyard. The man's heart
swelled as he crossed the stile. The tall old elms, through whose
branches the declining sun cast here and there a rich ray of light
upon the shady part, awakened the associations of his earliest days.
He pictured himself as he was then, clinging to his mother's hand, and
walking peacefully to church. He remembered how he used to look up into
her pale face; and how her eyes would sometimes fill with tears as she
gazed upon his features--tears which fell hot upon his forehead as she
stooped to kiss him, and made him weep too, although he little knew then
what bitter tears hers were. He thought how often he had run merrily
down that path with some childish playfellow, looking back, ever and
again, to catch his mother's smile, or hear her gentle voice; and then
a veil seemed lifted from his memory, and words of kindness unrequited,
and warnings despised, and promises broken, thronged upon his
recollection till his heart failed him, and he could bear it no longer.
'He entered the church. The evening service was concluded and the
congregation had dispersed, but it was not yet closed. His steps echoed
through the low building with a hollow sound, and he almost feared to
be alone, it was so still and quiet. He looked round him. Nothing was
changed. The place seemed smaller than it used to be; but there were the
old monuments on which he had gazed with childish awe a thousand times;
the little pulpit with its faded cushion; the Communion table before
which he had so often repeated the Commandments he had reverenced as
a child, and forgotten as a man. He approached the old seat; it looked
cold and desolate. The cushion had been removed, and the Bible was not
there. Perhaps his mother now occupied a poorer seat, or possibly she
had grown infirm and could not reach the church alone. He dared not
think of what he feared. A cold feeling crept over him, and he trembled
violently as he turned away. 'An old man entered the porch just as he
reached it. Edmunds started back, for he knew him well; many a time he
had watched him digging graves in the churchyard. What would he say to
the returned convict?

'The old man raised his eyes to the stranger's face, bade him
"good-evening," and walked slowly on. He had forgotten him.

'He walked down the hill, and through the village. The weather was warm,
and the people were sitting at their doors, or strolling in their little
gardens as he passed, enjoying the serenity of the evening, and their
rest from labour. Many a look was turned towards him, and many a
doubtful glance he cast on either side to see whether any knew and
shunned him. There were strange faces in almost every house; in some he
recognised the burly form of some old schoolfellow--a boy when he last
saw him--surrounded by a troop of merry children; in others he saw,
seated in an easy-chair at a cottage door, a feeble and infirm old man,
whom he only remembered as a hale and hearty labourer; but they had all
forgotten him, and he passed on unknown.

'The last soft light of the setting sun had fallen on the earth, casting
a rich glow on the yellow corn sheaves, and lengthening the shadows of
the orchard trees, as he stood before the old house--the home of his
infancy--to which his heart had yearned with an intensity of affection
not to be described, through long and weary years of captivity and
sorrow. The paling was low, though he well remembered the time that it
had seemed a high wall to him; and he looked over into the old garden.
There were more seeds and gayer flowers than there used to be, but
there were the old trees still--the very tree under which he had lain a
thousand times when tired of playing in the sun, and felt the soft, mild
sleep of happy boyhood steal gently upon him. There were voices within
the house. He listened, but they fell strangely upon his ear; he knew
them not. They were merry too; and he well knew that his poor old mother
could not be cheerful, and he away. The door opened, and a group of
little children bounded out, shouting and romping. The father, with a
little boy in his arms, appeared at the door, and they crowded round
him, clapping their tiny hands, and dragging him out, to join their
joyous sports. The convict thought on the many times he had shrunk from
his father's sight in that very place. He remembered how often he had
buried his trembling head beneath the bedclothes, and heard the harsh
word, and the hard stripe, and his mother's wailing; and though the
man sobbed aloud with agony of mind as he left the spot, his fist was
clenched, and his teeth were set, in a fierce and deadly passion.

'And such was the return to which he had looked through the weary
perspective of many years, and for which he had undergone so much
suffering! No face of welcome, no look of forgiveness, no house to
receive, no hand to help him--and this too in the old village. What was
his loneliness in the wild, thick woods, where man was never seen, to
this!

'He felt that in the distant land of his bondage and infamy, he had
thought of his native place as it was when he left it; and not as it
would be when he returned. The sad reality struck coldly at his heart,
and his spirit sank within him. He had not courage to make inquiries, or
to present himself to the only person who was likely to receive him with
kindness and compassion. He walked slowly on; and shunning the roadside
like a guilty man, turned into a meadow he well remembered; and covering
his face with his hands, threw himself upon the grass.

'He had not observed that a man was lying on the bank beside him; his
garments rustled as he turned round to steal a look at the new-comer;
and Edmunds raised his head.

'The man had moved into a sitting posture. His body was much bent, and
his face was wrinkled and yellow. His dress denoted him an inmate of the
workhouse: he had the appearance of being very old, but it looked more
the effect of dissipation or disease, than the length of years. He was
staring hard at the stranger, and though his eyes were lustreless and
heavy at first, they appeared to glow with an unnatural and alarmed
expression after they had been fixed upon him for a short time, until
they seemed to be starting from their sockets. Edmunds gradually raised
himself to his knees, and looked more and more earnestly on the old
man's face. They gazed upon each other in silence.

'The old man was ghastly pale. He shuddered and tottered to his feet.
Edmunds sprang to his. He stepped back a pace or two. Edmunds advanced.

'"Let me hear you speak," said the convict, in a thick, broken voice.

'"Stand off!" cried the old man, with a dreadful oath. The convict drew
closer to him.

'"Stand off!" shrieked the old man. Furious with terror, he raised his
stick, and struck Edmunds a heavy blow across the face.

'"Father--devil!" murmured the convict between his set teeth. He rushed
wildly forward, and clenched the old man by the throat--but he was his
father; and his arm fell powerless by his side.

'The old man uttered a loud yell which rang through the lonely fields
like the howl of an evil spirit. His face turned black, the gore rushed
from his mouth and nose, and dyed the grass a deep, dark red, as he
staggered and fell. He had ruptured a blood-vessel, and he was a dead
man before his son could raise him. 'In that corner of the churchyard,'
said the old gentleman, after a silence of a few moments, 'in that
corner of the churchyard of which I have before spoken, there lies
buried a man who was in my employment for three years after this event,
and who was truly contrite, penitent, and humbled, if ever man was. No
one save myself knew in that man's lifetime who he was, or whence he
came--it was John Edmunds, the returned convict.'



CHAPTER VII. HOW Mr. WINKLE, INSTEAD OF SHOOTING AT THE PIGEON AND
KILLING THE CROW, SHOT AT THE CROW AND WOUNDED THE PIGEON; HOW THE
DINGLEY DELL CRICKET CLUB PLAYED ALL-MUGGLETON, AND HOW ALL-MUGGLETON
DINED AT THE DINGLEY DELL EXPENSE; WITH OTHER INTERESTING AND
INSTRUCTIVE MATTERS


The fatiguing adventures of the day or the somniferous influence of the
clergyman's tale operated so strongly on the drowsy tendencies of Mr.
Pickwick, that in less than five minutes after he had been shown to his
comfortable bedroom he fell into a sound and dreamless sleep, from
which he was only awakened by the morning sun darting his bright beams
reproachfully into the apartment. Mr. Pickwick was no sluggard, and he
sprang like an ardent warrior from his tent-bedstead.

'Pleasant, pleasant country,' sighed the enthusiastic gentleman, as he
opened his lattice window. 'Who could live to gaze from day to day on
bricks and slates who had once felt the influence of a scene like this?
Who could continue to exist where there are no cows but the cows on the
chimney-pots; nothing redolent of Pan but pan-tiles; no crop but stone
crop? Who could bear to drag out a life in such a spot? Who, I ask,
could endure it?' and, having cross-examined solitude after the most
approved precedents, at considerable length, Mr. Pickwick thrust his
head out of the lattice and looked around him.

The rich, sweet smell of the hay-ricks rose to his chamber window; the
hundred perfumes of the little flower-garden beneath scented the air
around; the deep-green meadows shone in the morning dew that glistened
on every leaf as it trembled in the gentle air; and the birds sang as
if every sparkling drop were to them a fountain of inspiration. Mr.
Pickwick fell into an enchanting and delicious reverie.

'Hollo!' was the sound that roused him.

He looked to the right, but he saw nobody; his eyes wandered to the
left, and pierced the prospect; he stared into the sky, but he wasn't
wanted there; and then he did what a common mind would have done at
once--looked into the garden, and there saw Mr. Wardle. 'How are
you?' said the good-humoured individual, out of breath with his own
anticipations of pleasure.'Beautiful morning, ain't it? Glad to see you
up so early. Make haste down, and come out. I'll wait for you here.'
Mr. Pickwick needed no second invitation. Ten minutes sufficed for the
completion of his toilet, and at the expiration of that time he was by
the old gentleman's side.

'Hollo!' said Mr. Pickwick in his turn, seeing that his companion was
armed with a gun, and that another lay ready on the grass; 'what's going
forward?'

'Why, your friend and I,' replied the host, 'are going out rook-shooting
before breakfast. He's a very good shot, ain't he?'

'I've heard him say he's a capital one,' replied Mr. Pickwick, 'but I
never saw him aim at anything.'

'Well,' said the host, 'I wish he'd come. Joe--Joe!'

The fat boy, who under the exciting influence of the morning did not
appear to be more than three parts and a fraction asleep, emerged from
the house.

'Go up, and call the gentleman, and tell him he'll find me and Mr.
Pickwick in the rookery. Show the gentleman the way there; d'ye hear?'

The boy departed to execute his commission; and the host, carrying both
guns like a second Robinson Crusoe, led the way from the garden.

'This is the place,' said the old gentleman, pausing after a few minutes
walking, in an avenue of trees. The information was unnecessary; for the
incessant cawing of the unconscious rooks sufficiently indicated their
whereabouts.

The old gentleman laid one gun on the ground, and loaded the other.

'Here they are,' said Mr. Pickwick; and, as he spoke, the forms of Mr.
Tupman, Mr. Snodgrass, and Mr. Winkle appeared in the distance. The fat
boy, not being quite certain which gentleman he was directed to call,
had with peculiar sagacity, and to prevent the possibility of any
mistake, called them all.

'Come along,' shouted the old gentleman, addressing Mr. Winkle; 'a keen
hand like you ought to have been up long ago, even to such poor work as
this.'

Mr. Winkle responded with a forced smile, and took up the spare gun with
an expression of countenance which a metaphysical rook, impressed with
a foreboding of his approaching death by violence, may be supposed
to assume. It might have been keenness, but it looked remarkably like
misery. The old gentleman nodded; and two ragged boys who had been
marshalled to the spot under the direction of the infant Lambert,
forthwith commenced climbing up two of the trees. 'What are these lads
for?' inquired Mr. Pickwick abruptly. He was rather alarmed; for he was
not quite certain but that the distress of the agricultural interest,
about which he had often heard a great deal, might have compelled the
small boys attached to the soil to earn a precarious and hazardous
subsistence by making marks of themselves for inexperienced sportsmen.
'Only to start the game,' replied Mr. Wardle, laughing.

'To what?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.

'Why, in plain English, to frighten the rooks.'

'Oh, is that all?'

'You are satisfied?'

'Quite.'

'Very well. Shall I begin?'

'If you please,' said Mr. Winkle, glad of any respite.

'Stand aside, then. Now for it.'

The boy shouted, and shook a branch with a nest on it. Half a dozen
young rooks in violent conversation, flew out to ask what the matter
was. The old gentleman fired by way of reply. Down fell one bird, and
off flew the others.

'Take him up, Joe,' said the old gentleman.

There was a smile upon the youth's face as he advanced. Indistinct
visions of rook-pie floated through his imagination. He laughed as he
retired with the bird--it was a plump one.

'Now, Mr. Winkle,' said the host, reloading his own gun. 'Fire away.'

Mr. Winkle advanced, and levelled his gun. Mr. Pickwick and his friends
cowered involuntarily to escape damage from the heavy fall of rooks,
which they felt quite certain would be occasioned by the devastating
barrel of their friend. There was a solemn pause--a shout--a flapping of
wings--a faint click.

'Hollo!' said the old gentleman.

'Won't it go?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.

'Missed fire,' said Mr. Winkle, who was very pale--probably from
disappointment.

'Odd,' said the old gentleman, taking the gun. 'Never knew one of them
miss fire before. Why, I don't see anything of the cap.' 'Bless my
soul!' said Mr. Winkle, 'I declare I forgot the cap!'

The slight omission was rectified. Mr. Pickwick crouched again. Mr.
Winkle stepped forward with an air of determination and resolution; and
Mr. Tupman looked out from behind a tree. The boy shouted; four birds
flew out. Mr. Winkle fired. There was a scream as of an individual--not
a rook--in corporal anguish. Mr. Tupman had saved the lives of
innumerable unoffending birds by receiving a portion of the charge in
his left arm.

To describe the confusion that ensued would be impossible. To tell
how Mr. Pickwick in the first transports of emotion called Mr. Winkle
'Wretch!' how Mr. Tupman lay prostrate on the ground; and how Mr. Winkle
knelt horror-stricken beside him; how Mr. Tupman called distractedly
upon some feminine Christian name, and then opened first one eye, and
then the other, and then fell back and shut them both--all this would be
as difficult to describe in detail, as it would be to depict the gradual
recovering of the unfortunate individual, the binding up of his arm
with pocket-handkerchiefs, and the conveying him back by slow degrees
supported by the arms of his anxious friends.

They drew near the house. The ladies were at the garden gate, waiting
for their arrival and their breakfast. The spinster aunt appeared; she
smiled, and beckoned them to walk quicker. 'Twas evident she knew not
of the disaster. Poor thing! there are times when ignorance is bliss
indeed.

They approached nearer.

'Why, what is the matter with the little old gentleman?' said Isabella
Wardle. The spinster aunt heeded not the remark; she thought it applied
to Mr. Pickwick. In her eyes Tracy Tupman was a youth; she viewed his
years through a diminishing glass.

'Don't be frightened,' called out the old host, fearful of alarming his
daughters. The little party had crowded so completely round Mr. Tupman,
that they could not yet clearly discern the nature of the accident.

'Don't be frightened,' said the host.

'What's the matter?' screamed the ladies.

'Mr. Tupman has met with a little accident; that's all.'

The spinster aunt uttered a piercing scream, burst into an hysteric
laugh, and fell backwards in the arms of her nieces.

'Throw some cold water over her,' said the old gentleman.

'No, no,' murmured the spinster aunt; 'I am better now. Bella, Emily--a
surgeon! Is he wounded?--Is he dead?--Is he--Ha, ha, ha!' Here
the spinster aunt burst into fit number two, of hysteric laughter
interspersed with screams.

'Calm yourself,' said Mr. Tupman, affected almost to tears by this
expression of sympathy with his sufferings. 'Dear, dear madam, calm
yourself.'

'It is his voice!' exclaimed the spinster aunt; and strong symptoms of
fit number three developed themselves forthwith.

'Do not agitate yourself, I entreat you, dearest madam,' said Mr. Tupman
soothingly. 'I am very little hurt, I assure you.'

'Then you are not dead!' ejaculated the hysterical lady. 'Oh, say you
are not dead!'

'Don't be a fool, Rachael,' interposed Mr. Wardle, rather more roughly
than was consistent with the poetic nature of the scene. 'What the
devil's the use of his saying he isn't dead?'

'No, no, I am not,' said Mr. Tupman. 'I require no assistance but yours.
Let me lean on your arm.' He added, in a whisper, 'Oh, Miss Rachael!'
The agitated female advanced, and offered her arm. They turned into the
breakfast parlour. Mr. Tracy Tupman gently pressed her hand to his lips,
and sank upon the sofa.

'Are you faint?' inquired the anxious Rachael.

'No,' said Mr. Tupman. 'It is nothing. I shall be better presently.' He
closed his eyes.

'He sleeps,' murmured the spinster aunt. (His organs of vision had been
closed nearly twenty seconds.) 'Dear--dear--Mr. Tupman!'

Mr. Tupman jumped up--'Oh, say those words again!' he exclaimed.

The lady started. 'Surely you did not hear them!' she said bashfully.

'Oh, yes, I did!' replied Mr. Tupman; 'repeat them. If you would have
me recover, repeat them.' 'Hush!' said the lady. 'My brother.' Mr. Tracy
Tupman resumed his former position; and Mr. Wardle, accompanied by a
surgeon, entered the room.

The arm was examined, the wound dressed, and pronounced to be a very
slight one; and the minds of the company having been thus satisfied,
they proceeded to satisfy their appetites with countenances to which an
expression of cheerfulness was again restored. Mr. Pickwick alone
was silent and reserved. Doubt and distrust were exhibited in his
countenance. His confidence in Mr. Winkle had been shaken--greatly
shaken--by the proceedings of the morning. 'Are you a cricketer?'
inquired Mr. Wardle of the marksman.

At any other time, Mr. Winkle would have replied in the affirmative. He
felt the delicacy of his situation, and modestly replied, 'No.'

'Are you, sir?' inquired Mr. Snodgrass.

'I was once upon a time,' replied the host; 'but I have given it up now.
I subscribe to the club here, but I don't play.'

'The grand match is played to-day, I believe,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'It is,' replied the host. 'Of course you would like to see it.'

'I, sir,' replied Mr. Pickwick, 'am delighted to view any sports
which may be safely indulged in, and in which the impotent effects of
unskilful people do not endanger human life.' Mr. Pickwick paused,
and looked steadily on Mr. Winkle, who quailed beneath his leader's
searching glance. The great man withdrew his eyes after a few minutes,
and added: 'Shall we be justified in leaving our wounded friend to the
care of the ladies?'

'You cannot leave me in better hands,' said Mr. Tupman.

'Quite impossible,' said Mr. Snodgrass.

It was therefore settled that Mr. Tupman should be left at home in
charge of the females; and that the remainder of the guests, under the
guidance of Mr. Wardle, should proceed to the spot where was to be held
that trial of skill, which had roused all Muggleton from its torpor, and
inoculated Dingley Dell with a fever of excitement.

As their walk, which was not above two miles long, lay through shady
lanes and sequestered footpaths, and as their conversation turned upon
the delightful scenery by which they were on every side surrounded, Mr.
Pickwick was almost inclined to regret the expedition they had used,
when he found himself in the main street of the town of Muggleton.
Everybody whose genius has a topographical bent knows perfectly well
that Muggleton is a corporate town, with a mayor, burgesses, and
freemen; and anybody who has consulted the addresses of the mayor to the
freemen, or the freemen to the mayor, or both to the corporation, or
all three to Parliament, will learn from thence what they ought to have
known before, that Muggleton is an ancient and loyal borough, mingling
a zealous advocacy of Christian principles with a devoted attachment to
commercial rights; in demonstration whereof, the mayor, corporation,
and other inhabitants, have presented at divers times, no fewer than one
thousand four hundred and twenty petitions against the continuance of
negro slavery abroad, and an equal number against any interference with
the factory system at home; sixty-eight in favour of the sale of livings
in the Church, and eighty-six for abolishing Sunday trading in the
street.

Mr. Pickwick stood in the principal street of this illustrious town,
and gazed with an air of curiosity, not unmixed with interest, on the
objects around him. There was an open square for the market-place; and
in the centre of it, a large inn with a sign-post in front, displaying
an object very common in art, but rarely met with in nature--to wit,
a blue lion, with three bow legs in the air, balancing himself on the
extreme point of the centre claw of his fourth foot. There were, within
sight, an auctioneer's and fire-agency office, a corn-factor's,
a linen-draper's, a saddler's, a distiller's, a grocer's, and a
shoe-shop--the last-mentioned warehouse being also appropriated to
the diffusion of hats, bonnets, wearing apparel, cotton umbrellas,
and useful knowledge. There was a red brick house with a small paved
courtyard in front, which anybody might have known belonged to the
attorney; and there was, moreover, another red brick house with Venetian
blinds, and a large brass door-plate with a very legible announcement
that it belonged to the surgeon. A few boys were making their way to the
cricket-field; and two or three shopkeepers who were standing at their
doors looked as if they should like to be making their way to the same
spot, as indeed to all appearance they might have done, without losing
any great amount of custom thereby. Mr. Pickwick having paused to
make these observations, to be noted down at a more convenient period,
hastened to rejoin his friends, who had turned out of the main street,
and were already within sight of the field of battle.

The wickets were pitched, and so were a couple of marquees for the
rest and refreshment of the contending parties. The game had not yet
commenced. Two or three Dingley Dellers, and All-Muggletonians, were
amusing themselves with a majestic air by throwing the ball carelessly
from hand to hand; and several other gentlemen dressed like them, in
straw hats, flannel jackets, and white trousers--a costume in which they
looked very much like amateur stone-masons--were sprinkled about the
tents, towards one of which Mr. Wardle conducted the party.

Several dozen of 'How-are-you's?' hailed the old gentleman's arrival;
and a general raising of the straw hats, and bending forward of the
flannel jackets, followed his introduction of his guests as gentlemen
from London, who were extremely anxious to witness the proceedings of
the day, with which, he had no doubt, they would be greatly delighted.

'You had better step into the marquee, I think, Sir,' said one very
stout gentleman, whose body and legs looked like half a gigantic roll of
flannel, elevated on a couple of inflated pillow-cases.

'You'll find it much pleasanter, Sir,' urged another stout gentleman,
who strongly resembled the other half of the roll of flannel aforesaid.

'You're very good,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'This way,' said the first speaker; 'they notch in here--it's the
best place in the whole field;' and the cricketer, panting on before,
preceded them to the tent.

'Capital game--smart sport--fine exercise--very,' were the words which
fell upon Mr. Pickwick's ear as he entered the tent; and the first
object that met his eyes was his green-coated friend of the Rochester
coach, holding forth, to the no small delight and edification of a
select circle of the chosen of All-Muggleton. His dress was slightly
improved, and he wore boots; but there was no mistaking him.

The stranger recognised his friends immediately; and, darting forward
and seizing Mr. Pickwick by the hand, dragged him to a seat with
his usual impetuosity, talking all the while as if the whole of the
arrangements were under his especial patronage and direction.

'This way--this way--capital fun--lots of beer--hogsheads; rounds of
beef--bullocks; mustard--cart-loads; glorious day--down with you--make
yourself at home--glad to see you--very.'

Mr. Pickwick sat down as he was bid, and Mr. Winkle and Mr. Snodgrass
also complied with the directions of their mysterious friend. Mr. Wardle
looked on in silent wonder.

'Mr. Wardle--a friend of mine,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Friend of yours!--My dear sir, how are you?--Friend of my
friend's--give me your hand, sir'--and the stranger grasped Mr. Wardle's
hand with all the fervour of a close intimacy of many years, and then
stepped back a pace or two as if to take a full survey of his face and
figure, and then shook hands with him again, if possible, more warmly
than before.

'Well; and how came you here?' said Mr. Pickwick, with a smile in
which benevolence struggled with surprise. 'Come,' replied the
stranger--'stopping at Crown--Crown at Muggleton--met a party--flannel
jackets--white trousers--anchovy sandwiches--devilled kidney--splendid
fellows--glorious.'

Mr. Pickwick was sufficiently versed in the stranger's system of
stenography to infer from this rapid and disjointed communication
that he had, somehow or other, contracted an acquaintance with the
All-Muggletons, which he had converted, by a process peculiar to
himself, into that extent of good-fellowship on which a general
invitation may be easily founded. His curiosity was therefore satisfied,
and putting on his spectacles he prepared himself to watch the play
which was just commencing.

All-Muggleton had the first innings; and the interest became intense
when Mr. Dumkins and Mr. Podder, two of the most renowned members of
that most distinguished club, walked, bat in hand, to their respective
wickets. Mr. Luffey, the highest ornament of Dingley Dell, was pitched
to bowl against the redoubtable Dumkins, and Mr. Struggles was selected
to do the same kind office for the hitherto unconquered Podder. Several
players were stationed, to 'look out,' in different parts of the field,
and each fixed himself into the proper attitude by placing one hand on
each knee, and stooping very much as if he were 'making a back' for
some beginner at leap-frog. All the regular players do this sort of
thing;--indeed it is generally supposed that it is quite impossible to
look out properly in any other position.

The umpires were stationed behind the wickets; the scorers were prepared
to notch the runs; a breathless silence ensued. Mr. Luffey retired a few
paces behind the wicket of the passive Podder, and applied the ball
to his right eye for several seconds. Dumkins confidently awaited its
coming with his eyes fixed on the motions of Luffey.

'Play!' suddenly cried the bowler. The ball flew from his hand straight
and swift towards the centre stump of the wicket. The wary Dumkins was
on the alert: it fell upon the tip of the bat, and bounded far away over
the heads of the scouts, who had just stooped low enough to let it fly
over them.

'Run--run--another.--Now, then throw her up--up with her--stop
there--another--no--yes--no--throw her up, throw her up!'--Such were
the shouts which followed the stroke; and at the conclusion of which
All-Muggleton had scored two. Nor was Podder behindhand in earning
laurels wherewith to garnish himself and Muggleton. He blocked the
doubtful balls, missed the bad ones, took the good ones, and sent them
flying to all parts of the field. The scouts were hot and tired; the
bowlers were changed and bowled till their arms ached; but Dumkins and
Podder remained unconquered. Did an elderly gentleman essay to stop the
progress of the ball, it rolled between his legs or slipped between
his fingers. Did a slim gentleman try to catch it, it struck him on the
nose, and bounded pleasantly off with redoubled violence, while the slim
gentleman's eyes filled with water, and his form writhed with anguish.
Was it thrown straight up to the wicket, Dumkins had reached it before
the ball. In short, when Dumkins was caught out, and Podder stumped
out, All-Muggleton had notched some fifty-four, while the score of the
Dingley Dellers was as blank as their faces. The advantage was too great
to be recovered. In vain did the eager Luffey, and the enthusiastic
Struggles, do all that skill and experience could suggest, to regain the
ground Dingley Dell had lost in the contest--it was of no avail; and in
an early period of the winning game Dingley Dell gave in, and allowed
the superior prowess of All-Muggleton.

The stranger, meanwhile, had been eating, drinking, and talking, without
cessation. At every good stroke he expressed his satisfaction and
approval of the player in a most condescending and patronising manner,
which could not fail to have been highly gratifying to the party
concerned; while at every bad attempt at a catch, and every failure to
stop the ball, he launched his personal displeasure at the head of the
devoted individual in such denunciations as--'Ah, ah!--stupid'--'Now,
butter-fingers'--'Muff'--'Humbug'--and so forth--ejaculations which
seemed to establish him in the opinion of all around, as a most
excellent and undeniable judge of the whole art and mystery of the noble
game of cricket.

'Capital game--well played--some strokes admirable,' said the stranger,
as both sides crowded into the tent, at the conclusion of the game.

'You have played it, sir?' inquired Mr. Wardle, who had been much amused
by his loquacity. 'Played it! Think I have--thousands of times--not
here--West Indies--exciting thing--hot work--very.' 'It must be rather a
warm pursuit in such a climate,' observed Mr. Pickwick.

'Warm!--red hot--scorching--glowing. Played a match once--single
wicket--friend the colonel--Sir Thomas Blazo--who should get the
greatest number of runs.--Won the toss--first innings--seven o'clock
A.m.--six natives to look out--went in; kept in--heat intense--natives
all fainted--taken away--fresh half-dozen ordered--fainted also--Blazo
bowling--supported by two natives--couldn't bowl me out--fainted
too--cleared away the colonel--wouldn't give in--faithful
attendant--Quanko Samba--last man left--sun so hot, bat in
blisters, ball scorched brown--five hundred and seventy runs--rather
exhausted--Quanko mustered up last remaining strength--bowled me
out--had a bath, and went out to dinner.'

'And what became of what's-his-name, Sir?' inquired an old gentleman.

'Blazo?'

'No--the other gentleman.' 'Quanko Samba?'

'Yes, sir.'

'Poor Quanko--never recovered it--bowled on, on my account--bowled off,
on his own--died, sir.' Here the stranger buried his countenance in a
brown jug, but whether to hide his emotion or imbibe its contents, we
cannot distinctly affirm. We only know that he paused suddenly, drew a
long and deep breath, and looked anxiously on, as two of the principal
members of the Dingley Dell club approached Mr. Pickwick, and said--

'We are about to partake of a plain dinner at the Blue Lion, Sir; we
hope you and your friends will join us.' 'Of course,' said Mr. Wardle,
'among our friends we include Mr.--;' and he looked towards the
stranger.

'Jingle,' said that versatile gentleman, taking the hint at once.
'Jingle--Alfred Jingle, Esq., of No Hall, Nowhere.'

'I shall be very happy, I am sure,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'So shall I,'
said Mr. Alfred Jingle, drawing one arm through Mr. Pickwick's, and
another through Mr. Wardle's, as he whispered confidentially in the ear
of the former gentleman:--

'Devilish good dinner--cold, but capital--peeped into the room this
morning--fowls and pies, and all that sort of thing--pleasant fellows
these--well behaved, too--very.'

There being no further preliminaries to arrange, the company straggled
into the town in little knots of twos and threes; and within a quarter
of an hour were all seated in the great room of the Blue Lion Inn,
Muggleton--Mr. Dumkins acting as chairman, and Mr. Luffey officiating as
vice.

There was a vast deal of talking and rattling of knives and forks, and
plates; a great running about of three ponderous-headed waiters, and a
rapid disappearance of the substantial viands on the table; to each and
every of which item of confusion, the facetious Mr. Jingle lent the aid
of half-a-dozen ordinary men at least. When everybody had eaten as much
as possible, the cloth was removed, bottles, glasses, and dessert were
placed on the table; and the waiters withdrew to 'clear away,'or in
other words, to appropriate to their own private use and emolument
whatever remnants of the eatables and drinkables they could contrive to
lay their hands on.

Amidst the general hum of mirth and conversation that ensued, there was
a little man with a puffy Say-nothing-to-me,-or-I'll-contradict-you sort
of countenance, who remained very quiet; occasionally looking round
him when the conversation slackened, as if he contemplated putting in
something very weighty; and now and then bursting into a short cough
of inexpressible grandeur. At length, during a moment of comparative
silence, the little man called out in a very loud, solemn voice,--

'Mr. Luffey!'

Everybody was hushed into a profound stillness as the individual
addressed, replied--

'Sir!'

'I wish to address a few words to you, Sir, if you will entreat the
gentlemen to fill their glasses.'

Mr. Jingle uttered a patronising 'Hear, hear,' which was responded to
by the remainder of the company; and the glasses having been filled,
the vice-president assumed an air of wisdom in a state of profound
attention; and said--

'Mr. Staple.'

'Sir,' said the little man, rising, 'I wish to address what I have to
say to you and not to our worthy chairman, because our worthy chairman
is in some measure--I may say in a great degree--the subject of what I
have to say, or I may say to--to--' 'State,' suggested Mr. Jingle.

'Yes, to state,' said the little man, 'I thank my honourable friend, if
he will allow me to call him so (four hears and one certainly from
Mr. Jingle), for the suggestion. Sir, I am a Deller--a Dingley Deller
(cheers). I cannot lay claim to the honour of forming an item in the
population of Muggleton; nor, Sir, I will frankly admit, do I covet that
honour: and I will tell you why, Sir (hear); to Muggleton I will readily
concede all these honours and distinctions to which it can fairly
lay claim--they are too numerous and too well known to require aid or
recapitulation from me. But, sir, while we remember that Muggleton has
given birth to a Dumkins and a Podder, let us never forget that Dingley
Dell can boast a Luffey and a Struggles. (Vociferous cheering.) Let me
not be considered as wishing to detract from the merits of the former
gentlemen. Sir, I envy them the luxury of their own feelings on this
occasion. (Cheers.) Every gentleman who hears me, is probably acquainted
with the reply made by an individual, who--to use an ordinary figure of
speech--"hung out" in a tub, to the emperor Alexander:--"if I were not
Diogenes," said he, "I would be Alexander." I can well imagine these
gentlemen to say, "If I were not Dumkins I would be Luffey; if I were
not Podder I would be Struggles." (Enthusiasm.) But, gentlemen of
Muggleton, is it in cricket alone that your fellow-townsmen stand
pre-eminent? Have you never heard of Dumkins and determination? Have you
never been taught to associate Podder with property? (Great applause.)
Have you never, when struggling for your rights, your liberties, and
your privileges, been reduced, if only for an instant, to misgiving
and despair? And when you have been thus depressed, has not the name of
Dumkins laid afresh within your breast the fire which had just gone out;
and has not a word from that man lighted it again as brightly as if it
had never expired? (Great cheering.) Gentlemen, I beg to surround with
a rich halo of enthusiastic cheering the united names of "Dumkins and
Podder."'

Here the little man ceased, and here the company commenced a raising of
voices, and thumping of tables, which lasted with little intermission
during the remainder of the evening. Other toasts were drunk. Mr. Luffey
and Mr. Struggles, Mr. Pickwick and Mr. Jingle, were, each in his turn,
the subject of unqualified eulogium; and each in due course returned
thanks for the honour.

Enthusiastic as we are in the noble cause to which we have devoted
ourselves, we should have felt a sensation of pride which we cannot
express, and a consciousness of having done something to merit
immortality of which we are now deprived, could we have laid the
faintest outline on these addresses before our ardent readers. Mr.
Snodgrass, as usual, took a great mass of notes, which would no doubt
have afforded most useful and valuable information, had not the burning
eloquence of the words or the feverish influence of the wine made that
gentleman's hand so extremely unsteady, as to render his writing
nearly unintelligible, and his style wholly so. By dint of patient
investigation, we have been enabled to trace some characters bearing a
faint resemblance to the names of the speakers; and we can only discern
an entry of a song (supposed to have been sung by Mr. Jingle), in which
the words 'bowl' 'sparkling' 'ruby' 'bright' and 'wine' are frequently
repeated at short intervals. We fancy, too, that we can discern at the
very end of the notes, some indistinct reference to 'broiled bones'; and
then the words 'cold' 'without' occur: but as any hypothesis we could
found upon them must necessarily rest upon mere conjecture, we are not
disposed to indulge in any of the speculations to which they may give
rise.

We will therefore return to Mr. Tupman; merely adding that within
some few minutes before twelve o'clock that night, the convocation of
worthies of Dingley Dell and Muggleton were heard to sing, with great
feeling and emphasis, the beautiful and pathetic national air of

     'We won't go home till morning,
     We won't go home till morning,
     We won't go home till morning,
     Till daylight doth appear.'



CHAPTER VIII. STRONGLY ILLUSTRATIVE OF THE POSITION, THAT THE COURSE OF
TRUE LOVE IS NOT A RAILWAY


The quiet seclusion of Dingley Dell, the presence of so many of the
gentler sex, and the solicitude and anxiety they evinced in his behalf,
were all favourable to the growth and development of those softer
feelings which nature had implanted deep in the bosom of Mr. Tracy
Tupman, and which now appeared destined to centre in one lovely object.
The young ladies were pretty, their manners winning, their
dispositions unexceptionable; but there was a dignity in the air, a
touch-me-not-ishness in the walk, a majesty in the eye, of the spinster
aunt, to which, at their time of life, they could lay no claim, which
distinguished her from any female on whom Mr. Tupman had ever gazed.
That there was something kindred in their nature, something congenial
in their souls, something mysteriously sympathetic in their bosoms, was
evident. Her name was the first that rose to Mr. Tupman's lips as he lay
wounded on the grass; and her hysteric laughter was the first sound
that fell upon his ear when he was supported to the house. But had her
agitation arisen from an amiable and feminine sensibility which would
have been equally irrepressible in any case; or had it been called forth
by a more ardent and passionate feeling, which he, of all men living,
could alone awaken? These were the doubts which racked his brain as
he lay extended on the sofa; these were the doubts which he determined
should be at once and for ever resolved.

it was evening. Isabella and Emily had strolled out with Mr. Trundle;
the deaf old lady had fallen asleep in her chair; the snoring of the fat
boy, penetrated in a low and monotonous sound from the distant kitchen;
the buxom servants were lounging at the side door, enjoying the
pleasantness of the hour, and the delights of a flirtation, on first
principles, with certain unwieldy animals attached to the farm; and
there sat the interesting pair, uncared for by all, caring for none, and
dreaming only of themselves; there they sat, in short, like a pair of
carefully-folded kid gloves--bound up in each other.

'I have forgotten my flowers,' said the spinster aunt.

'Water them now,' said Mr. Tupman, in accents of persuasion.

'You will take cold in the evening air,' urged the spinster aunt
affectionately.

'No, no,' said Mr. Tupman, rising; 'it will do me good. Let me accompany
you.'

The lady paused to adjust the sling in which the left arm of the youth
was placed, and taking his right arm led him to the garden.

There was a bower at the farther end, with honeysuckle, jessamine, and
creeping plants--one of those sweet retreats which humane men erect for
the accommodation of spiders.

The spinster aunt took up a large watering-pot which lay in one corner,
and was about to leave the arbour. Mr. Tupman detained her, and drew her
to a seat beside him.

'Miss Wardle!' said he. The spinster aunt trembled, till some pebbles
which had accidentally found their way into the large watering-pot shook
like an infant's rattle.

'Miss Wardle,' said Mr. Tupman, 'you are an angel.'

'Mr. Tupman!' exclaimed Rachael, blushing as red as the watering-pot
itself.

'Nay,' said the eloquent Pickwickian--'I know it but too well.'

'All women are angels, they say,' murmured the lady playfully.

'Then what can you be; or to what, without presumption, can I compare
you?' replied Mr. Tupman. 'Where was the woman ever seen who resembled
you? Where else could I hope to find so rare a combination of excellence
and beauty? Where else could I seek to--Oh!' Here Mr. Tupman paused, and
pressed the hand which clasped the handle of the happy watering-pot.

The lady turned aside her head. 'Men are such deceivers,' she softly
whispered.

'They are, they are,' ejaculated Mr. Tupman; 'but not all men. There
lives at least one being who can never change--one being who would be
content to devote his whole existence to your happiness--who lives
but in your eyes--who breathes but in your smiles--who bears the heavy
burden of life itself only for you.'

'Could such an individual be found--' said the lady.

'But he CAN be found,' said the ardent Mr. Tupman, interposing. 'He
IS found. He is here, Miss Wardle.' And ere the lady was aware of his
intention, Mr. Tupman had sunk upon his knees at her feet.

'Mr. Tupman, rise,' said Rachael.

'Never!' was the valorous reply. 'Oh, Rachael!' He seized her passive
hand, and the watering-pot fell to the ground as he pressed it to his
lips.--'Oh, Rachael! say you love me.'

'Mr. Tupman,' said the spinster aunt, with averted head, 'I can hardly
speak the words; but--but--you are not wholly indifferent to me.'

Mr. Tupman no sooner heard this avowal, than he proceeded to do what his
enthusiastic emotions prompted, and what, for aught we know (for we are
but little acquainted with such matters), people so circumstanced always
do. He jumped up, and, throwing his arm round the neck of the spinster
aunt, imprinted upon her lips numerous kisses, which after a due show of
struggling and resistance, she received so passively, that there is no
telling how many more Mr. Tupman might have bestowed, if the lady had
not given a very unaffected start, and exclaimed in an affrighted tone--

'Mr. Tupman, we are observed!--we are discovered!'

Mr. Tupman looked round. There was the fat boy, perfectly motionless,
with his large circular eyes staring into the arbour, but without the
slightest expression on his face that the most expert physiognomist
could have referred to astonishment, curiosity, or any other known
passion that agitates the human breast. Mr. Tupman gazed on the fat boy,
and the fat boy stared at him; and the longer Mr. Tupman observed the
utter vacancy of the fat boy's countenance, the more convinced he became
that he either did not know, or did not understand, anything that had
been going forward. Under this impression, he said with great firmness--

'What do you want here, Sir?'

'Supper's ready, sir,' was the prompt reply.

'Have you just come here, sir?' inquired Mr. Tupman, with a piercing
look.

'Just,' replied the fat boy.

Mr. Tupman looked at him very hard again; but there was not a wink in
his eye, or a curve in his face.

Mr. Tupman took the arm of the spinster aunt, and walked towards the
house; the fat boy followed behind.

'He knows nothing of what has happened,'he whispered.

'Nothing,' said the spinster aunt.

There was a sound behind them, as of an imperfectly suppressed chuckle.
Mr. Tupman turned sharply round. No; it could not have been the fat boy;
there was not a gleam of mirth, or anything but feeding in his whole
visage.

'He must have been fast asleep,' whispered Mr. Tupman.

'I have not the least doubt of it,' replied the spinster aunt.

They both laughed heartily.

Mr. Tupman was wrong. The fat boy, for once, had not been fast asleep.
He was awake--wide awake--to what had been going forward.

The supper passed off without any attempt at a general conversation. The
old lady had gone to bed; Isabella Wardle devoted herself exclusively to
Mr. Trundle; the spinster's attentions were reserved for Mr. Tupman;
and Emily's thoughts appeared to be engrossed by some distant
object--possibly they were with the absent Snodgrass.

Eleven--twelve--one o'clock had struck, and the gentlemen had not
arrived. Consternation sat on every face. Could they have been waylaid
and robbed? Should they send men and lanterns in every direction by
which they could be supposed likely to have travelled home? or should
they--Hark! there they were. What could have made them so late? A
strange voice, too! To whom could it belong? They rushed into the
kitchen, whither the truants had repaired, and at once obtained rather
more than a glimmering of the real state of the case.

Mr. Pickwick, with his hands in his pockets and his hat cocked
completely over his left eye, was leaning against the dresser, shaking
his head from side to side, and producing a constant succession of the
blandest and most benevolent smiles without being moved thereunto by
any discernible cause or pretence whatsoever; old Mr. Wardle, with
a highly-inflamed countenance, was grasping the hand of a strange
gentleman muttering protestations of eternal friendship; Mr. Winkle,
supporting himself by the eight-day clock, was feebly invoking
destruction upon the head of any member of the family who should suggest
the propriety of his retiring for the night; and Mr. Snodgrass had sunk
into a chair, with an expression of the most abject and hopeless misery
that the human mind can imagine, portrayed in every lineament of his
expressive face.

'Is anything the matter?' inquired the three ladies.

'Nothing the matter,' replied Mr. Pickwick. 'We--we're--all right.--I
say, Wardle, we're all right, ain't we?'

'I should think so,' replied the jolly host.--'My dears, here's my
friend Mr. Jingle--Mr. Pickwick's friend, Mr. Jingle, come 'pon--little
visit.'

'Is anything the matter with Mr. Snodgrass, Sir?' inquired Emily, with
great anxiety.

'Nothing the matter, ma'am,' replied the stranger. 'Cricket
dinner--glorious party--capital songs--old port--claret--good--very
good--wine, ma'am--wine.'

'It wasn't the wine,' murmured Mr. Snodgrass, in a broken voice. 'It was
the salmon.' (Somehow or other, it never is the wine, in these cases.)

'Hadn't they better go to bed, ma'am?' inquired Emma. 'Two of the boys
will carry the gentlemen upstairs.'

'I won't go to bed,' said Mr. Winkle firmly.

'No living boy shall carry me,' said Mr. Pickwick stoutly; and he went
on smiling as before. 'Hurrah!' gasped Mr. Winkle faintly.

'Hurrah!' echoed Mr. Pickwick, taking off his hat and dashing it on
the floor, and insanely casting his spectacles into the middle of the
kitchen. At this humorous feat he laughed outright.

'Let's--have--'nother--bottle,'cried Mr. Winkle, commencing in a very
loud key, and ending in a very faint one. His head dropped upon his
breast; and, muttering his invincible determination not to go to his
bed, and a sanguinary regret that he had not 'done for old Tupman' in
the morning, he fell fast asleep; in which condition he was borne to his
apartment by two young giants under the personal superintendence of
the fat boy, to whose protecting care Mr. Snodgrass shortly afterwards
confided his own person, Mr. Pickwick accepted the proffered arm of Mr.
Tupman and quietly disappeared, smiling more than ever; and Mr. Wardle,
after taking as affectionate a leave of the whole family as if he were
ordered for immediate execution, consigned to Mr. Trundle the honour of
conveying him upstairs, and retired, with a very futile attempt to look
impressively solemn and dignified. 'What a shocking scene!' said the
spinster aunt.

'Dis-gusting!' ejaculated both the young ladies.

'Dreadful--dreadful!' said Jingle, looking very grave: he was about
a bottle and a half ahead of any of his companions. 'Horrid
spectacle--very!'

'What a nice man!' whispered the spinster aunt to Mr. Tupman.

'Good-looking, too!' whispered Emily Wardle.

'Oh, decidedly,' observed the spinster aunt.

Mr. Tupman thought of the widow at Rochester, and his mind was troubled.
The succeeding half-hour's conversation was not of a nature to calm his
perturbed spirit. The new visitor was very talkative, and the number of
his anecdotes was only to be exceeded by the extent of his politeness.
Mr. Tupman felt that as Jingle's popularity increased, he (Tupman)
retired further into the shade. His laughter was forced--his merriment
feigned; and when at last he laid his aching temples between the sheets,
he thought, with horrid delight, on the satisfaction it would afford
him to have Jingle's head at that moment between the feather bed and the
mattress.

The indefatigable stranger rose betimes next morning, and, although
his companions remained in bed overpowered with the dissipation of
the previous night, exerted himself most successfully to promote the
hilarity of the breakfast-table. So successful were his efforts, that
even the deaf old lady insisted on having one or two of his best jokes
retailed through the trumpet; and even she condescended to observe to
the spinster aunt, that 'He' (meaning Jingle) 'was an impudent young
fellow:' a sentiment in which all her relations then and there present
thoroughly coincided.

It was the old lady's habit on the fine summer mornings to repair to the
arbour in which Mr. Tupman had already signalised himself, in form and
manner following: first, the fat boy fetched from a peg behind the old
lady's bedroom door, a close black satin bonnet, a warm cotton shawl,
and a thick stick with a capacious handle; and the old lady, having put
on the bonnet and shawl at her leisure, would lean one hand on the
stick and the other on the fat boy's shoulder, and walk leisurely to the
arbour, where the fat boy would leave her to enjoy the fresh air for the
space of half an hour; at the expiration of which time he would return
and reconduct her to the house.

The old lady was very precise and very particular; and as this ceremony
had been observed for three successive summers without the slightest
deviation from the accustomed form, she was not a little surprised
on this particular morning to see the fat boy, instead of leaving the
arbour, walk a few paces out of it, look carefully round him in every
direction, and return towards her with great stealth and an air of the
most profound mystery.

The old lady was timorous--most old ladies are--and her first impression
was that the bloated lad was about to do her some grievous bodily harm
with the view of possessing himself of her loose coin. She would have
cried for assistance, but age and infirmity had long ago deprived her
of the power of screaming; she, therefore, watched his motions with
feelings of intense horror which were in no degree diminished by his
coming close up to her, and shouting in her ear in an agitated, and as
it seemed to her, a threatening tone--

'Missus!'

Now it so happened that Mr. Jingle was walking in the garden close to
the arbour at that moment. He too heard the shouts of 'Missus,' and
stopped to hear more. There were three reasons for his doing so. In
the first place, he was idle and curious; secondly, he was by no means
scrupulous; thirdly, and lastly, he was concealed from view by some
flowering shrubs. So there he stood, and there he listened.

'Missus!' shouted the fat boy.

'Well, Joe,' said the trembling old lady. 'I'm sure I have been a good
mistress to you, Joe. You have invariably been treated very kindly. You
have never had too much to do; and you have always had enough to eat.'

This last was an appeal to the fat boy's most sensitive feelings. He
seemed touched, as he replied emphatically--'I knows I has.'

'Then what can you want to do now?' said the old lady, gaining courage.

'I wants to make your flesh creep,' replied the boy.

This sounded like a very bloodthirsty mode of showing one's gratitude;
and as the old lady did not precisely understand the process by which
such a result was to be attained, all her former horrors returned.

'What do you think I see in this very arbour last night?' inquired the
boy.

'Bless us! What?' exclaimed the old lady, alarmed at the solemn manner
of the corpulent youth.

'The strange gentleman--him as had his arm hurt--a-kissin' and
huggin'--'

'Who, Joe? None of the servants, I hope.' 'Worser than that,' roared the
fat boy, in the old lady's ear.

'Not one of my grandda'aters?'

'Worser than that.'

'Worse than that, Joe!' said the old lady, who had thought this the
extreme limit of human atrocity. 'Who was it, Joe? I insist upon
knowing.'

The fat boy looked cautiously round, and having concluded his survey,
shouted in the old lady's ear--

'Miss Rachael.'

'What!' said the old lady, in a shrill tone. 'Speak louder.'

'Miss Rachael,' roared the fat boy.

'My da'ater!'

The train of nods which the fat boy gave by way of assent, communicated
a blanc-mange like motion to his fat cheeks.

'And she suffered him!' exclaimed the old lady. A grin stole over the
fat boy's features as he said--

'I see her a-kissin' of him agin.'

If Mr. Jingle, from his place of concealment, could have beheld the
expression which the old lady's face assumed at this communication, the
probability is that a sudden burst of laughter would have betrayed his
close vicinity to the summer-house. He listened attentively. Fragments
of angry sentences such as, 'Without my permission!'--'At her time of
life'--'Miserable old 'ooman like me'--'Might have waited till I was
dead,' and so forth, reached his ears; and then he heard the heels of
the fat boy's boots crunching the gravel, as he retired and left the old
lady alone.

It was a remarkable coincidence perhaps, but it was nevertheless a fact,
that Mr. Jingle within five minutes of his arrival at Manor Farm on the
preceding night, had inwardly resolved to lay siege to the heart of the
spinster aunt, without delay. He had observation enough to see, that his
off-hand manner was by no means disagreeable to the fair object of his
attack; and he had more than a strong suspicion that she possessed that
most desirable of all requisites, a small independence. The imperative
necessity of ousting his rival by some means or other, flashed quickly
upon him, and he immediately resolved to adopt certain proceedings
tending to that end and object, without a moment's delay. Fielding tells
us that man is fire, and woman tow, and the Prince of Darkness sets a
light to 'em. Mr. Jingle knew that young men, to spinster aunts, are as
lighted gas to gunpowder, and he determined to essay the effect of an
explosion without loss of time.

Full of reflections upon this important decision, he crept from his
place of concealment, and, under cover of the shrubs before mentioned,
approached the house. Fortune seemed determined to favour his design.
Mr. Tupman and the rest of the gentlemen left the garden by the side
gate just as he obtained a view of it; and the young ladies, he knew,
had walked out alone, soon after breakfast. The coast was clear.

The breakfast-parlour door was partially open. He peeped in. The
spinster aunt was knitting. He coughed; she looked up and smiled.
Hesitation formed no part of Mr. Alfred Jingle's character. He laid his
finger on his lips mysteriously, walked in, and closed the door.

'Miss Wardle,' said Mr. Jingle, with affected earnestness, 'forgive
intrusion--short acquaintance--no time for ceremony--all discovered.'

'Sir!' said the spinster aunt, rather astonished by the unexpected
apparition and somewhat doubtful of Mr. Jingle's sanity.

'Hush!' said Mr. Jingle, in a stage-whisper--'Large boy--dumpling
face--round eyes--rascal!' Here he shook his head expressively, and the
spinster aunt trembled with agitation.

'I presume you allude to Joseph, Sir?' said the lady, making an effort
to appear composed.

'Yes, ma'am--damn that Joe!--treacherous dog, Joe--told the old
lady--old lady furious--wild--raving--arbour--Tupman--kissing and
hugging--all that sort of thing--eh, ma'am--eh?'

'Mr. Jingle,' said the spinster aunt, 'if you come here, Sir, to insult
me--'

'Not at all--by no means,' replied the unabashed Mr. Jingle--'overheard
the tale--came to warn you of your danger--tender my services--prevent
the hubbub. Never mind--think it an insult--leave the room'--and he
turned, as if to carry the threat into execution.

'What SHALL I do!' said the poor spinster, bursting into tears. 'My
brother will be furious.'

'Of course he will,' said Mr. Jingle pausing--'outrageous.' 'Oh, Mr.
Jingle, what CAN I say!' exclaimed the spinster aunt, in another flood
of despair.

'Say he dreamt it,' replied Mr. Jingle coolly.

A ray of comfort darted across the mind of the spinster aunt at this
suggestion. Mr. Jingle perceived it, and followed up his advantage.

'Pooh, pooh!--nothing more easy--blackguard boy--lovely woman--fat boy
horsewhipped--you believed--end of the matter--all comfortable.'

Whether the probability of escaping from the consequences of this
ill-timed discovery was delightful to the spinster's feelings, or
whether the hearing herself described as a 'lovely woman' softened the
asperity of her grief, we know not. She blushed slightly, and cast a
grateful look on Mr. Jingle.

That insinuating gentleman sighed deeply, fixed his eyes on the spinster
aunt's face for a couple of minutes, started melodramatically, and
suddenly withdrew them.

'You seem unhappy, Mr. Jingle,' said the lady, in a plaintive voice.
'May I show my gratitude for your kind interference, by inquiring into
the cause, with a view, if possible, to its removal?'

'Ha!' exclaimed Mr. Jingle, with another start--'removal! remove my
unhappiness, and your love bestowed upon a man who is insensible to the
blessing--who even now contemplates a design upon the affections of the
niece of the creature who--but no; he is my friend; I will not expose
his vices. Miss Wardle--farewell!' At the conclusion of this address,
the most consecutive he was ever known to utter, Mr. Jingle applied
to his eyes the remnant of a handkerchief before noticed, and turned
towards the door.

'Stay, Mr. Jingle!' said the spinster aunt emphatically. 'You have made
an allusion to Mr. Tupman--explain it.'

'Never!' exclaimed Jingle, with a professional (i.e., theatrical) air.
'Never!' and, by way of showing that he had no desire to be questioned
further, he drew a chair close to that of the spinster aunt and sat
down.

'Mr. Jingle,' said the aunt, 'I entreat--I implore you, if there is any
dreadful mystery connected with Mr. Tupman, reveal it.'

'Can I,' said Mr. Jingle, fixing his eyes on the aunt's face--'can I
see--lovely creature--sacrificed at the shrine--heartless avarice!' He
appeared to be struggling with various conflicting emotions for a few
seconds, and then said in a low voice--

'Tupman only wants your money.'

'The wretch!' exclaimed the spinster, with energetic indignation. (Mr.
Jingle's doubts were resolved. She HAD money.)

'More than that,' said Jingle--'loves another.'

'Another!' ejaculated the spinster. 'Who?' 'Short girl--black
eyes--niece Emily.'

There was a pause.

Now, if there was one individual in the whole world, of whom the
spinster aunt entertained a mortal and deep-rooted jealousy, it was
this identical niece. The colour rushed over her face and neck, and she
tossed her head in silence with an air of ineffable contempt. At last,
biting her thin lips, and bridling up, she said--

'It can't be. I won't believe it.'

'Watch 'em,' said Jingle.

'I will,' said the aunt.

'Watch his looks.'

'I will.'

'His whispers.'

'I will.'

'He'll sit next her at table.'

'Let him.'

'He'll flatter her.'

'Let him.'

'He'll pay her every possible attention.'

'Let him.'

'And he'll cut you.'

'Cut ME!' screamed the spinster aunt. 'HE cut ME; will he!' and she
trembled with rage and disappointment.

'You will convince yourself?' said Jingle.

'I will.'

'You'll show your spirit?'

'I will.' 'You'll not have him afterwards?'

'Never.'

'You'll take somebody else?' 'Yes.'

'You shall.'

Mr. Jingle fell on his knees, remained thereupon for five
minutes thereafter; and rose the accepted lover of the spinster
aunt--conditionally upon Mr. Tupman's perjury being made clear and
manifest.

The burden of proof lay with Mr. Alfred Jingle; and he produced his
evidence that very day at dinner. The spinster aunt could hardly believe
her eyes. Mr. Tracy Tupman was established at Emily's side, ogling,
whispering, and smiling, in opposition to Mr. Snodgrass. Not a word,
not a look, not a glance, did he bestow upon his heart's pride of the
evening before.

'Damn that boy!' thought old Mr. Wardle to himself.--He had heard the
story from his mother. 'Damn that boy! He must have been asleep. It's
all imagination.'

'Traitor!' thought the spinster aunt. 'Dear Mr. Jingle was not deceiving
me. Ugh! how I hate the wretch!'

The following conversation may serve to explain to our readers this
apparently unaccountable alteration of deportment on the part of Mr.
Tracy Tupman.

The time was evening; the scene the garden. There were two figures
walking in a side path; one was rather short and stout; the other
tall and slim. They were Mr. Tupman and Mr. Jingle. The stout figure
commenced the dialogue.

'How did I do it?' he inquired.

'Splendid--capital--couldn't act better myself--you must repeat the part
to-morrow--every evening till further notice.'

'Does Rachael still wish it?'

'Of course--she don't like it--but must be done--avert suspicion--afraid
of her brother--says there's no help for it--only a few days more--when
old folks blinded--crown your happiness.'

'Any message?'

'Love--best love--kindest regards--unalterable affection. Can I say
anything for you?'

'My dear fellow,' replied the unsuspicious Mr. Tupman, fervently
grasping his 'friend's' hand--'carry my best love--say how hard I find
it to dissemble--say anything that's kind: but add how sensible I am
of the necessity of the suggestion she made to me, through you, this
morning. Say I applaud her wisdom and admire her discretion.' 'I will.
Anything more?'

'Nothing, only add how ardently I long for the time when I may call her
mine, and all dissimulation may be unnecessary.'

'Certainly, certainly. Anything more?'

'Oh, my friend!' said poor Mr. Tupman, again grasping the hand of his
companion, 'receive my warmest thanks for your disinterested kindness;
and forgive me if I have ever, even in thought, done you the injustice
of supposing that you could stand in my way. My dear friend, can I ever
repay you?'

'Don't talk of it,' replied Mr. Jingle. He stopped short, as if suddenly
recollecting something, and said--'By the bye--can't spare ten pounds,
can you?--very particular purpose--pay you in three days.'

'I dare say I can,' replied Mr. Tupman, in the fulness of his heart.
'Three days, you say?'

'Only three days--all over then--no more difficulties.' Mr. Tupman
counted the money into his companion's hand, and he dropped it piece by
piece into his pocket, as they walked towards the house.

'Be careful,' said Mr. Jingle--'not a look.'

'Not a wink,' said Mr. Tupman.

'Not a syllable.'

'Not a whisper.'

'All your attentions to the niece--rather rude, than otherwise, to the
aunt--only way of deceiving the old ones.'

'I'll take care,' said Mr. Tupman aloud.

'And I'LL take care,' said Mr. Jingle internally; and they entered the
house.

The scene of that afternoon was repeated that evening, and on the three
afternoons and evenings next ensuing. On the fourth, the host was in
high spirits, for he had satisfied himself that there was no ground for
the charge against Mr. Tupman. So was Mr. Tupman, for Mr. Jingle had
told him that his affair would soon be brought to a crisis. So was Mr.
Pickwick, for he was seldom otherwise. So was not Mr. Snodgrass, for he
had grown jealous of Mr. Tupman. So was the old lady, for she had been
winning at whist. So were Mr. Jingle and Miss Wardle, for reasons of
sufficient importance in this eventful history to be narrated in another
chapter.


CHAPTER IX. A DISCOVERY AND A CHASE


The supper was ready laid, the chairs were drawn round the table,
bottles, jugs, and glasses were arranged upon the sideboard, and
everything betokened the approach of the most convivial period in the
whole four-and-twenty hours.

'Where's Rachael?' said Mr. Wardle.

'Ay, and Jingle?' added Mr. Pickwick.

'Dear me,' said the host, 'I wonder I haven't missed him before. Why, I
don't think I've heard his voice for two hours at least. Emily, my dear,
ring the bell.'

The bell was rung, and the fat boy appeared.

'Where's Miss Rachael?' He couldn't say. 'Where's Mr. Jingle, then?'
He didn't know. Everybody looked surprised. It was late--past eleven
o'clock. Mr. Tupman laughed in his sleeve. They were loitering
somewhere, talking about him. Ha, ha! capital notion that--funny.

'Never mind,' said Wardle, after a short pause. 'They'll turn up
presently, I dare say. I never wait supper for anybody.'

'Excellent rule, that,' said Mr. Pickwick--'admirable.'

'Pray, sit down,' said the host.

'Certainly' said Mr. Pickwick; and down they sat.

There was a gigantic round of cold beef on the table, and Mr. Pickwick
was supplied with a plentiful portion of it. He had raised his fork
to his lips, and was on the very point of opening his mouth for the
reception of a piece of beef, when the hum of many voices suddenly arose
in the kitchen. He paused, and laid down his fork. Mr. Wardle paused
too, and insensibly released his hold of the carving-knife, which
remained inserted in the beef. He looked at Mr. Pickwick. Mr. Pickwick
looked at him.

Heavy footsteps were heard in the passage; the parlour door was suddenly
burst open; and the man who had cleaned Mr. Pickwick's boots on his
first arrival, rushed into the room, followed by the fat boy and all the
domestics. 'What the devil's the meaning of this?' exclaimed the host.

'The kitchen chimney ain't a-fire, is it, Emma?' inquired the old lady.
'Lor, grandma! No,' screamed both the young ladies.

'What's the matter?' roared the master of the house.

The man gasped for breath, and faintly ejaculated--

'They ha' gone, mas'r!--gone right clean off, Sir!' (At this juncture
Mr. Tupman was observed to lay down his knife and fork, and to turn very
pale.)

'Who's gone?' said Mr. Wardle fiercely.

'Mus'r Jingle and Miss Rachael, in a po'-chay, from Blue Lion,
Muggleton. I was there; but I couldn't stop 'em; so I run off to tell
'ee.'

'I paid his expenses!' said Mr. Tupman, jumping up frantically. 'He's
got ten pounds of mine!--stop him!--he's swindled me!--I won't bear
it!--I'll have justice, Pickwick!--I won't stand it!' and with sundry
incoherent exclamations of the like nature, the unhappy gentleman spun
round and round the apartment, in a transport of frenzy.

'Lord preserve us!' ejaculated Mr. Pickwick, eyeing the extraordinary
gestures of his friend with terrified surprise. 'He's gone mad! What
shall we do?' 'Do!' said the stout old host, who regarded only the last
words of the sentence. 'Put the horse in the gig! I'll get a chaise at
the Lion, and follow 'em instantly. Where?'--he exclaimed, as the man
ran out to execute the commission--'where's that villain, Joe?'

'Here I am! but I hain't a willin,' replied a voice. It was the fat
boy's.

'Let me get at him, Pickwick,' cried Wardle, as he rushed at the
ill-starred youth. 'He was bribed by that scoundrel, Jingle, to put me
on a wrong scent, by telling a cock-and-bull story of my sister and
your friend Tupman!' (Here Mr. Tupman sank into a chair.) 'Let me get at
him!'

'Don't let him!' screamed all the women, above whose exclamations the
blubbering of the fat boy was distinctly audible.

'I won't be held!' cried the old man. 'Mr. Winkle, take your hands off.
Mr. Pickwick, let me go, sir!'

It was a beautiful sight, in that moment of turmoil and confusion, to
behold the placid and philosophical expression of Mr. Pickwick's face,
albeit somewhat flushed with exertion, as he stood with his arms
firmly clasped round the extensive waist of their corpulent host,
thus restraining the impetuosity of his passion, while the fat boy
was scratched, and pulled, and pushed from the room by all the females
congregated therein. He had no sooner released his hold, than the man
entered to announce that the gig was ready.

'Don't let him go alone!' screamed the females. 'He'll kill somebody!'

'I'll go with him,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'You're a good fellow, Pickwick,' said the host, grasping his hand.
'Emma, give Mr. Pickwick a shawl to tie round his neck--make haste. Look
after your grandmother, girls; she has fainted away. Now then, are you
ready?'

Mr. Pickwick's mouth and chin having been hastily enveloped in a large
shawl, his hat having been put on his head, and his greatcoat thrown
over his arm, he replied in the affirmative.

They jumped into the gig. 'Give her her head, Tom,' cried the host;
and away they went, down the narrow lanes; jolting in and out of the
cart-ruts, and bumping up against the hedges on either side, as if they
would go to pieces every moment.

'How much are they ahead?' shouted Wardle, as they drove up to the door
of the Blue Lion, round which a little crowd had collected, late as it
was.

'Not above three-quarters of an hour,' was everybody's reply.
'Chaise-and-four directly!--out with 'em! Put up the gig afterwards.'

'Now, boys!' cried the landlord--'chaise-and-four out--make haste--look
alive there!'

Away ran the hostlers and the boys. The lanterns glimmered, as the men
ran to and fro; the horses' hoofs clattered on the uneven paving of the
yard; the chaise rumbled as it was drawn out of the coach-house; and all
was noise and bustle.

'Now then!--is that chaise coming out to-night?' cried Wardle.

'Coming down the yard now, Sir,' replied the hostler.

Out came the chaise--in went the horses--on sprang the boys--in got the
travellers.

'Mind--the seven-mile stage in less than half an hour!' shouted Wardle.

'Off with you!'

The boys applied whip and spur, the waiters shouted, the hostlers
cheered, and away they went, fast and furiously.

'Pretty situation,' thought Mr. Pickwick, when he had had a moment's
time for reflection. 'Pretty situation for the general chairman of the
Pickwick Club. Damp chaise--strange horses--fifteen miles an hour--and
twelve o'clock at night!'

For the first three or four miles, not a word was spoken by either of
the gentlemen, each being too much immersed in his own reflections to
address any observations to his companion. When they had gone over that
much ground, however, and the horses getting thoroughly warmed began
to do their work in really good style, Mr. Pickwick became too much
exhilarated with the rapidity of the motion, to remain any longer
perfectly mute.

'We're sure to catch them, I think,' said he.

'Hope so,' replied his companion.

'Fine night,' said Mr. Pickwick, looking up at the moon, which was
shining brightly.

'So much the worse,' returned Wardle; 'for they'll have had all the
advantage of the moonlight to get the start of us, and we shall lose it.
It will have gone down in another hour.'


'It will be rather unpleasant going at this rate in the dark, won't it?'
inquired Mr. Pickwick.

'I dare say it will,' replied his friend dryly.

Mr. Pickwick's temporary excitement began to sober down a little, as he
reflected upon the inconveniences and dangers of the expedition in which
he had so thoughtlessly embarked. He was roused by a loud shouting of
the post-boy on the leader.

'Yo-yo-yo-yo-yoe!' went the first boy.

'Yo-yo-yo-yoe!' went the second.

'Yo-yo-yo-yoe!' chimed in old Wardle himself, most lustily, with his
head and half his body out of the coach window.

'Yo-yo-yo-yoe!' shouted Mr. Pickwick, taking up the burden of the cry,
though he had not the slightest notion of its meaning or object. And
amidst the yo-yoing of the whole four, the chaise stopped.

'What's the matter?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.

'There's a gate here,' replied old Wardle. 'We shall hear something of
the fugitives.'

After a lapse of five minutes, consumed in incessant knocking and
shouting, an old man in his shirt and trousers emerged from the
turnpike-house, and opened the gate.

'How long is it since a post-chaise went through here?' inquired Mr.
Wardle.

'How long?'

'Ah!'

'Why, I don't rightly know. It worn't a long time ago, nor it worn't a
short time ago--just between the two, perhaps.'

'Has any chaise been by at all?'

'Oh, yes, there's been a Shay by.'

'How long ago, my friend,' interposed Mr. Pickwick; 'an hour?'

'Ah, I dare say it might be,' replied the man.

'Or two hours?' inquired the post--boy on the wheeler.

'Well, I shouldn't wonder if it was,' returned the old man doubtfully.

'Drive on, boys,' cried the testy old gentleman; 'don't waste any more
time with that old idiot!'

'Idiot!' exclaimed the old man with a grin, as he stood in the middle
of the road with the gate half-closed, watching the chaise which rapidly
diminished in the increasing distance. 'No--not much o' that either;
you've lost ten minutes here, and gone away as wise as you came, arter
all. If every man on the line as has a guinea give him, earns it half
as well, you won't catch t'other shay this side Mich'lmas, old
short-and-fat.' And with another prolonged grin, the old man closed the
gate, re-entered his house, and bolted the door after him.

Meanwhile the chaise proceeded, without any slackening of pace, towards
the conclusion of the stage. The moon, as Wardle had foretold, was
rapidly on the wane; large tiers of dark, heavy clouds, which had been
gradually overspreading the sky for some time past, now formed one black
mass overhead; and large drops of rain which pattered every now and then
against the windows of the chaise, seemed to warn the travellers of
the rapid approach of a stormy night. The wind, too, which was directly
against them, swept in furious gusts down the narrow road, and howled
dismally through the trees which skirted the pathway. Mr. Pickwick drew
his coat closer about him, coiled himself more snugly up into the corner
of the chaise, and fell into a sound sleep, from which he was only
awakened by the stopping of the vehicle, the sound of the hostler's
bell, and a loud cry of 'Horses on directly!'

But here another delay occurred. The boys were sleeping with such
mysterious soundness, that it took five minutes a-piece to wake them.
The hostler had somehow or other mislaid the key of the stable, and even
when that was found, two sleepy helpers put the wrong harness on the
wrong horses, and the whole process of harnessing had to be gone through
afresh. Had Mr. Pickwick been alone, these multiplied obstacles would
have completely put an end to the pursuit at once, but old Wardle was
not to be so easily daunted; and he laid about him with such hearty
good-will, cuffing this man, and pushing that; strapping a buckle here,
and taking in a link there, that the chaise was ready in a much
shorter time than could reasonably have been expected, under so many
difficulties.

They resumed their journey; and certainly the prospect before them was
by no means encouraging. The stage was fifteen miles long, the night was
dark, the wind high, and the rain pouring in torrents. It was impossible
to make any great way against such obstacles united; it was hard upon
one o'clock already; and nearly two hours were consumed in getting to
the end of the stage. Here, however, an object presented itself, which
rekindled their hopes, and reanimated their drooping spirits.

'When did this chaise come in?' cried old Wardle, leaping out of his own
vehicle, and pointing to one covered with wet mud, which was standing in
the yard.

'Not a quarter of an hour ago, sir,' replied the hostler, to whom the
question was addressed. 'Lady and gentleman?' inquired Wardle, almost
breathless with impatience.

'Yes, sir.'

'Tall gentleman--dress-coat--long legs--thin body?'

'Yes, sir.'

'Elderly lady--thin face--rather skinny--eh?'

'Yes, sir.'

'By heavens, it's the couple, Pickwick,' exclaimed the old gentleman.

'Would have been here before,' said the hostler, 'but they broke a
trace.'

''Tis them!' said Wardle, 'it is, by Jove! Chaise-and-four instantly! We
shall catch them yet before they reach the next stage. A guinea a-piece,
boys-be alive there--bustle about--there's good fellows.'

And with such admonitions as these, the old gentleman ran up and
down the yard, and bustled to and fro, in a state of excitement which
communicated itself to Mr. Pickwick also; and under the influence of
which, that gentleman got himself into complicated entanglements with
harness, and mixed up with horses and wheels of chaises, in the most
surprising manner, firmly believing that by so doing he was materially
forwarding the preparations for their resuming their journey.

'Jump in--jump in!' cried old Wardle, climbing into the chaise, pulling
up the steps, and slamming the door after him. 'Come along! Make haste!'
And before Mr. Pickwick knew precisely what he was about, he felt
himself forced in at the other door, by one pull from the old gentleman
and one push from the hostler; and off they were again.

'Ah! we are moving now,' said the old gentleman exultingly. They were
indeed, as was sufficiently testified to Mr. Pickwick, by his constant
collision either with the hard wood-work of the chaise, or the body of
his companion.

'Hold up!' said the stout old Mr. Wardle, as Mr. Pickwick dived head
foremost into his capacious waistcoat.

'I never did feel such a jolting in my life,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Never mind,' replied his companion, 'it will soon be over. Steady,
steady.'

Mr. Pickwick planted himself into his own corner, as firmly as he could;
and on whirled the chaise faster than ever.

They had travelled in this way about three miles, when Mr. Wardle, who
had been looking out of the Window for two or three minutes, suddenly
drew in his face, covered with splashes, and exclaimed in breathless
eagerness--

'Here they are!'

Mr. Pickwick thrust his head out of his window. Yes: there was a
chaise-and-four, a short distance before them, dashing along at full
gallop.

'Go on, go on,' almost shrieked the old gentleman. 'Two guineas a-piece,
boys--don't let 'em gain on us--keep it up--keep it up.'

The horses in the first chaise started on at their utmost speed; and
those in Mr. Wardle's galloped furiously behind them.

'I see his head,' exclaimed the choleric old man; 'damme, I see his
head.'

'So do I' said Mr. Pickwick; 'that's he.' Mr. Pickwick was not mistaken.
The countenance of Mr. Jingle, completely coated with mud thrown up by
the wheels, was plainly discernible at the window of his chaise; and the
motion of his arm, which was waving violently towards the postillions,
denoted that he was encouraging them to increased exertion.

The interest was intense. Fields, trees, and hedges, seemed to rush past
them with the velocity of a whirlwind, so rapid was the pace at which
they tore along. They were close by the side of the first chaise.
Jingle's voice could be plainly heard, even above the din of the wheels,
urging on the boys. Old Mr. Wardle foamed with rage and excitement. He
roared out scoundrels and villains by the dozen, clenched his fist and
shook it expressively at the object of his indignation; but Mr. Jingle
only answered with a contemptuous smile, and replied to his menaces by a
shout of triumph, as his horses, answering the increased application of
whip and spur, broke into a faster gallop, and left the pursuers behind.

Mr. Pickwick had just drawn in his head, and Mr. Wardle, exhausted with
shouting, had done the same, when a tremendous jolt threw them forward
against the front of the vehicle. There was a sudden bump--a loud
crash--away rolled a wheel, and over went the chaise.

After a very few seconds of bewilderment and confusion, in which nothing
but the plunging of horses, and breaking of glass could be made out, Mr.
Pickwick felt himself violently pulled out from among the ruins of the
chaise; and as soon as he had gained his feet, extricated his head from
the skirts of his greatcoat, which materially impeded the usefulness of
his spectacles, the full disaster of the case met his view.

Old Mr. Wardle without a hat, and his clothes torn in several places,
stood by his side, and the fragments of the chaise lay scattered at
their feet. The post-boys, who had succeeded in cutting the traces,
were standing, disfigured with mud and disordered by hard riding, by the
horses' heads. About a hundred yards in advance was the other chaise,
which had pulled up on hearing the crash. The postillions, each with a
broad grin convulsing his countenance, were viewing the adverse party
from their saddles, and Mr. Jingle was contemplating the wreck from the
coach window, with evident satisfaction. The day was just breaking, and
the whole scene was rendered perfectly visible by the grey light of the
morning.

'Hollo!' shouted the shameless Jingle, 'anybody damaged?--elderly
gentlemen--no light weights--dangerous work--very.'

'You're a rascal,' roared Wardle.

'Ha! ha!' replied Jingle; and then he added, with a knowing wink, and a
jerk of the thumb towards the interior of the chaise--'I say--she's very
well--desires her compliments--begs you won't trouble yourself--love to
TUPPY--won't you get up behind?--drive on, boys.'

The postillions resumed their proper attitudes, and away rattled the
chaise, Mr. Jingle fluttering in derision a white handkerchief from the
coach window.

Nothing in the whole adventure, not even the upset, had disturbed
the calm and equable current of Mr. Pickwick's temper. The villainy,
however, which could first borrow money of his faithful follower, and
then abbreviate his name to 'Tuppy,' was more than he could patiently
bear. He drew his breath hard, and coloured up to the very tips of his
spectacles, as he said, slowly and emphatically--

'If ever I meet that man again, I'll--'

'Yes, yes,' interrupted Wardle, 'that's all very well; but while
we stand talking here, they'll get their licence, and be married in
London.'

Mr. Pickwick paused, bottled up his vengeance, and corked it down. 'How
far is it to the next stage?' inquired Mr. Wardle, of one of the boys.

'Six mile, ain't it, Tom?'

'Rayther better.'

'Rayther better nor six mile, Sir.'

'Can't be helped,' said Wardle, 'we must walk it, Pickwick.'

'No help for it,' replied that truly great man.

So sending forward one of the boys on horseback, to procure a fresh
chaise and horses, and leaving the other behind to take care of the
broken one, Mr. Pickwick and Mr. Wardle set manfully forward on the
walk, first tying their shawls round their necks, and slouching down
their hats to escape as much as possible from the deluge of rain, which
after a slight cessation had again begun to pour heavily down.



CHAPTER X. CLEARING UP ALL DOUBTS (IF ANY EXISTED) OF THE
DISINTERESTEDNESS OF Mr. A. JINGLE'S CHARACTER


There are in London several old inns, once the headquarters of
celebrated coaches in the days when coaches performed their journeys in
a graver and more solemn manner than they do in these times; but
which have now degenerated into little more than the abiding and
booking-places of country wagons. The reader would look in vain for
any of these ancient hostelries, among the Golden Crosses and Bull
and Mouths, which rear their stately fronts in the improved streets of
London. If he would light upon any of these old places, he must direct
his steps to the obscurer quarters of the town, and there in some
secluded nooks he will find several, still standing with a kind of
gloomy sturdiness, amidst the modern innovations which surround them.

In the Borough especially, there still remain some half-dozen old inns,
which have preserved their external features unchanged, and which have
escaped alike the rage for public improvement and the encroachments of
private speculation. Great, rambling queer old places they are, with
galleries, and passages, and staircases, wide enough and antiquated
enough to furnish materials for a hundred ghost stories, supposing we
should ever be reduced to the lamentable necessity of inventing any,
and that the world should exist long enough to exhaust the innumerable
veracious legends connected with old London Bridge, and its adjacent
neighbourhood on the Surrey side.

It was in the yard of one of these inns--of no less celebrated a one
than the White Hart--that a man was busily employed in brushing the dirt
off a pair of boots, early on the morning succeeding the events narrated
in the last chapter. He was habited in a coarse, striped waistcoat,
with black calico sleeves, and blue glass buttons; drab breeches and
leggings. A bright red handkerchief was wound in a very loose and
unstudied style round his neck, and an old white hat was carelessly
thrown on one side of his head. There were two rows of boots before him,
one cleaned and the other dirty, and at every addition he made to the
clean row, he paused from his work, and contemplated its results with
evident satisfaction.

The yard presented none of that bustle and activity which are the usual
characteristics of a large coach inn. Three or four lumbering wagons,
each with a pile of goods beneath its ample canopy, about the height of
the second-floor window of an ordinary house, were stowed away beneath
a lofty roof which extended over one end of the yard; and another, which
was probably to commence its journey that morning, was drawn out into
the open space. A double tier of bedroom galleries, with old Clumsy
balustrades, ran round two sides of the straggling area, and a double
row of bells to correspond, sheltered from the weather by a little
sloping roof, hung over the door leading to the bar and coffee-room. Two
or three gigs and chaise-carts were wheeled up under different little
sheds and pent-houses; and the occasional heavy tread of a cart-horse,
or rattling of a chain at the farther end of the yard, announced
to anybody who cared about the matter, that the stable lay in that
direction. When we add that a few boys in smock-frocks were lying asleep
on heavy packages, wool-packs, and other articles that were scattered
about on heaps of straw, we have described as fully as need be the
general appearance of the yard of the White Hart Inn, High Street,
Borough, on the particular morning in question.

A loud ringing of one of the bells was followed by the appearance of a
smart chambermaid in the upper sleeping gallery, who, after tapping at
one of the doors, and receiving a request from within, called over the
balustrades--'Sam!'

'Hollo,' replied the man with the white hat.

'Number twenty-two wants his boots.'

'Ask number twenty-two, vether he'll have 'em now, or vait till he gets
'em,' was the reply.

'Come, don't be a fool, Sam,' said the girl coaxingly, 'the gentleman
wants his boots directly.'

'Well, you ARE a nice young 'ooman for a musical party, you are,' said
the boot-cleaner. 'Look at these here boots--eleven pair o' boots; and
one shoe as belongs to number six, with the wooden leg. The eleven boots
is to be called at half-past eight and the shoe at nine. Who's number
twenty-two, that's to put all the others out? No, no; reg'lar rotation,
as Jack Ketch said, ven he tied the men up. Sorry to keep you a-waitin',
Sir, but I'll attend to you directly.'

Saying which, the man in the white hat set to work upon a top-boot with
increased assiduity.

There was another loud ring; and the bustling old landlady of the White
Hart made her appearance in the opposite gallery.

'Sam,' cried the landlady, 'where's that lazy, idle--why, Sam--oh, there
you are; why don't you answer?'

'Vouldn't be gen-teel to answer, till you'd done talking,' replied Sam
gruffly.

'Here, clean these shoes for number seventeen directly, and take 'em to
private sitting-room, number five, first floor.'

The landlady flung a pair of lady's shoes into the yard, and bustled
away.

'Number five,' said Sam, as he picked up the shoes, and taking a piece
of chalk from his pocket, made a memorandum of their destination on the
soles--'Lady's shoes and private sittin'-room! I suppose she didn't come
in the vagin.'

'She came in early this morning,' cried the girl, who was still leaning
over the railing of the gallery, 'with a gentleman in a hackney-coach,
and it's him as wants his boots, and you'd better do 'em, that's all
about it.'

'Vy didn't you say so before,' said Sam, with great indignation,
singling out the boots in question from the heap before him. 'For all I
know'd he was one o' the regular threepennies. Private room! and a lady
too! If he's anything of a gen'l'm'n, he's vurth a shillin' a day, let
alone the arrands.' Stimulated by this inspiring reflection, Mr. Samuel
brushed away with such hearty good-will, that in a few minutes the boots
and shoes, with a polish which would have struck envy to the soul of the
amiable Mr. Warren (for they used Day & Martin at the White Hart), had
arrived at the door of number five.

'Come in,' said a man's voice, in reply to Sam's rap at the door. Sam
made his best bow, and stepped into the presence of a lady and gentleman
seated at breakfast. Having officiously deposited the gentleman's boots
right and left at his feet, and the lady's shoes right and left at hers,
he backed towards the door.

'Boots,' said the gentleman.

'Sir,' said Sam, closing the door, and keeping his hand on the knob of
the lock. 'Do you know--what's a-name--Doctors' Commons?'

'Yes, Sir.'

'Where is it?'

'Paul's Churchyard, Sir; low archway on the carriage side, bookseller's
at one corner, hot-el on the other, and two porters in the middle as
touts for licences.'

'Touts for licences!' said the gentleman.

'Touts for licences,' replied Sam. 'Two coves in vhite aprons--touches
their hats ven you walk in--"Licence, Sir, licence?" Queer sort, them,
and their mas'rs, too, sir--Old Bailey Proctors--and no mistake.'

'What do they do?' inquired the gentleman.

'Do! You, Sir! That ain't the worst on it, neither. They puts things
into old gen'l'm'n's heads as they never dreamed of. My father, Sir, wos
a coachman. A widower he wos, and fat enough for anything--uncommon fat,
to be sure. His missus dies, and leaves him four hundred pound. Down
he goes to the Commons, to see the lawyer and draw the blunt--very
smart--top boots on--nosegay in his button-hole--broad-brimmed
tile--green shawl--quite the gen'l'm'n. Goes through the archvay,
thinking how he should inwest the money--up comes the touter,
touches his hat--"Licence, Sir, licence?"--"What's that?" says
my father.--"Licence, Sir," says he.--"What licence?" says my
father.--"Marriage licence," says the touter.--"Dash my veskit," says my
father, "I never thought o' that."--"I think you wants one, Sir," says
the touter. My father pulls up, and thinks a bit--"No," says he, "damme,
I'm too old, b'sides, I'm a many sizes too large," says he.--"Not a bit
on it, Sir," says the touter.--"Think not?" says my father.--"I'm
sure not," says he; "we married a gen'l'm'n twice your size, last
Monday."--"Did you, though?" said my father.--"To be sure, we did," says
the touter, "you're a babby to him--this way, sir--this way!"--and sure
enough my father walks arter him, like a tame monkey behind a horgan,
into a little back office, vere a teller sat among dirty papers, and tin
boxes, making believe he was busy. "Pray take a seat, vile I makes out
the affidavit, Sir," says the lawyer.--"Thank'ee, Sir," says my father,
and down he sat, and stared with all his eyes, and his mouth vide
open, at the names on the boxes. "What's your name, Sir," says the
lawyer.--"Tony Weller," says my father.--"Parish?" says the lawyer.
"Belle Savage," says my father; for he stopped there wen he drove up,
and he know'd nothing about parishes, he didn't.--"And what's the lady's
name?" says the lawyer. My father was struck all of a heap. "Blessed if
I know," says he.--"Not know!" says the lawyer.--"No more nor you do,"
says my father; "can't I put that in arterwards?"--"Impossible!" says
the lawyer.--"Wery well," says my father, after he'd thought a moment,
"put down Mrs. Clarke."--"What Clarke?" says the lawyer, dipping his pen
in the ink.--"Susan Clarke, Markis o' Granby, Dorking," says my father;
"she'll have me, if I ask. I des-say--I never said nothing to her, but
she'll have me, I know." The licence was made out, and she DID have
him, and what's more she's got him now; and I never had any of the four
hundred pound, worse luck. Beg your pardon, sir,' said Sam, when he had
concluded, 'but wen I gets on this here grievance, I runs on like a new
barrow with the wheel greased.' Having said which, and having paused for
an instant to see whether he was wanted for anything more, Sam left the
room.

'Half-past nine--just the time--off at once;' said the gentleman, whom
we need hardly introduce as Mr. Jingle.

'Time--for what?' said the spinster aunt coquettishly.

'Licence, dearest of angels--give notice at the church--call you mine,
to-morrow'--said Mr. Jingle, and he squeezed the spinster aunt's hand.

'The licence!' said Rachael, blushing.


'The licence,' repeated Mr. Jingle--

     'In hurry, post-haste for a licence,
     In hurry, ding dong I come back.'

'How you run on,' said Rachael.

'Run on--nothing to the hours, days, weeks, months, years, when
we're united--run on--they'll fly
on--bolt--mizzle--steam-engine--thousand-horse power--nothing to it.'

'Can't--can't we be married before to-morrow morning?' inquired
Rachael. 'Impossible--can't be--notice at the church--leave the licence
to-day--ceremony come off to-morrow.' 'I am so terrified, lest my
brother should discover us!' said Rachael.

'Discover--nonsense--too much shaken by the break-down--besides--extreme
caution--gave up the post-chaise--walked on--took a hackney-coach--came
to the Borough--last place in the world that he'd look in--ha!
ha!--capital notion that--very.'

'Don't be long,' said the spinster affectionately, as Mr. Jingle stuck
the pinched-up hat on his head.

'Long away from you?--Cruel charmer;' and Mr. Jingle skipped playfully
up to the spinster aunt, imprinted a chaste kiss upon her lips, and
danced out of the room.

'Dear man!' said the spinster, as the door closed after him.

'Rum old girl,' said Mr. Jingle, as he walked down the passage.

It is painful to reflect upon the perfidy of our species; and we will
not, therefore, pursue the thread of Mr. Jingle's meditations, as
he wended his way to Doctors' Commons. It will be sufficient for our
purpose to relate, that escaping the snares of the dragons in white
aprons, who guard the entrance to that enchanted region, he reached the
vicar-general's office in safety and having procured a highly flattering
address on parchment, from the Archbishop of Canterbury, to his 'trusty
and well-beloved Alfred Jingle and Rachael Wardle, greeting,' he
carefully deposited the mystic document in his pocket, and retraced his
steps in triumph to the Borough.

He was yet on his way to the White Hart, when two plump gentleman
and one thin one entered the yard, and looked round in search of some
authorised person of whom they could make a few inquiries. Mr. Samuel
Weller happened to be at that moment engaged in burnishing a pair of
painted tops, the personal property of a farmer who was refreshing
himself with a slight lunch of two or three pounds of cold beef and a
pot or two of porter, after the fatigues of the Borough market; and to
him the thin gentleman straightway advanced.

'My friend,' said the thin gentleman.

'You're one o' the adwice gratis order,' thought Sam, 'or you wouldn't
be so wery fond o' me all at once.' But he only said--'Well, Sir.'

'My friend,' said the thin gentleman, with a conciliatory hem--'have you
got many people stopping here now? Pretty busy. Eh?'

Sam stole a look at the inquirer. He was a little high-dried man, with
a dark squeezed-up face, and small, restless, black eyes, that kept
winking and twinkling on each side of his little inquisitive nose, as if
they were playing a perpetual game of peep-bo with that feature. He
was dressed all in black, with boots as shiny as his eyes, a low white
neckcloth, and a clean shirt with a frill to it. A gold watch-chain,
and seals, depended from his fob. He carried his black kid gloves IN his
hands, and not ON them; and as he spoke, thrust his wrists beneath his
coat tails, with the air of a man who was in the habit of propounding
some regular posers.

'Pretty busy, eh?' said the little man.

'Oh, wery well, Sir,' replied Sam, 'we shan't be bankrupts, and we
shan't make our fort'ns. We eats our biled mutton without capers, and
don't care for horse-radish ven ve can get beef.'

'Ah,' said the little man, 'you're a wag, ain't you?'

'My eldest brother was troubled with that complaint,' said Sam; 'it may
be catching--I used to sleep with him.'

'This is a curious old house of yours,' said the little man, looking
round him.

'If you'd sent word you was a-coming, we'd ha' had it repaired;' replied
the imperturbable Sam.

The little man seemed rather baffled by these several repulses, and a
short consultation took place between him and the two plump gentlemen.
At its conclusion, the little man took a pinch of snuff from an
oblong silver box, and was apparently on the point of renewing the
conversation, when one of the plump gentlemen, who in addition to a
benevolent countenance, possessed a pair of spectacles, and a pair of
black gaiters, interfered--

'The fact of the matter is,' said the benevolent gentleman, 'that my
friend here (pointing to the other plump gentleman) will give you half a
guinea, if you'll answer one or two--'

'Now, my dear sir--my dear Sir,' said the little man, 'pray, allow
me--my dear Sir, the very first principle to be observed in these cases,
is this: if you place the matter in the hands of a professional man,
you must in no way interfere in the progress of the business; you must
repose implicit confidence in him. Really, Mr.--' He turned to the other
plump gentleman, and said, 'I forget your friend's name.'

'Pickwick,' said Mr. Wardle, for it was no other than that jolly
personage.

'Ah, Pickwick--really Mr. Pickwick, my dear Sir, excuse me--I shall be
happy to receive any private suggestions of yours, as AMICUS CURIAE, but
you must see the impropriety of your interfering with my conduct in this
case, with such an AD CAPTANDUM argument as the offer of half a guinea.
Really, my dear Sir, really;' and the little man took an argumentative
pinch of snuff, and looked very profound.

'My only wish, Sir,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'was to bring this very
unpleasant matter to as speedy a close as possible.'

'Quite right--quite right,' said the little man.

'With which view,' continued Mr. Pickwick, 'I made use of the argument
which my experience of men has taught me is the most likely to succeed
in any case.'

'Ay, ay,' said the little man, 'very good, very good, indeed; but you
should have suggested it to me. My dear sir, I'm quite certain you
cannot be ignorant of the extent of confidence which must be placed in
professional men. If any authority can be necessary on such a point, my
dear sir, let me refer you to the well-known case in Barnwell and--'

'Never mind George Barnwell,' interrupted Sam, who had remained a
wondering listener during this short colloquy; 'everybody knows what
sort of a case his was, tho' it's always been my opinion, mind you, that
the young 'ooman deserved scragging a precious sight more than he did.
Hows'ever, that's neither here nor there. You want me to accept of half
a guinea. Wery well, I'm agreeable: I can't say no fairer than that,
can I, sir?' (Mr. Pickwick smiled.) Then the next question is, what the
devil do you want with me, as the man said, wen he see the ghost?'

'We want to know--' said Mr. Wardle.

'Now, my dear sir--my dear sir,' interposed the busy little man.

Mr. Wardle shrugged his shoulders, and was silent.

'We want to know,' said the little man solemnly; 'and we ask the
question of you, in order that we may not awaken apprehensions
inside--we want to know who you've got in this house at present?'

'Who there is in the house!' said Sam, in whose mind the inmates were
always represented by that particular article of their costume, which
came under his immediate superintendence. 'There's a vooden leg in
number six; there's a pair of Hessians in thirteen; there's two pair
of halves in the commercial; there's these here painted tops in the
snuggery inside the bar; and five more tops in the coffee-room.'

'Nothing more?' said the little man.

'Stop a bit,' replied Sam, suddenly recollecting himself. 'Yes; there's
a pair of Vellingtons a good deal worn, and a pair o' lady's shoes, in
number five.'

'What sort of shoes?' hastily inquired Wardle, who, together with Mr.
Pickwick, had been lost in bewilderment at the singular catalogue of
visitors.

'Country make,' replied Sam.

'Any maker's name?'

'Brown.'

'Where of?'

'Muggleton.

'It is them,' exclaimed Wardle. 'By heavens, we've found them.'

'Hush!' said Sam. 'The Vellingtons has gone to Doctors' Commons.'

'No,' said the little man.

'Yes, for a licence.'

'We're in time,' exclaimed Wardle. 'Show us the room; not a moment is to
be lost.'

'Pray, my dear sir--pray,' said the little man; 'caution, caution.' He
drew from his pocket a red silk purse, and looked very hard at Sam as he
drew out a sovereign.

Sam grinned expressively.

'Show us into the room at once, without announcing us,' said the little
man, 'and it's yours.'

Sam threw the painted tops into a corner, and led the way through a
dark passage, and up a wide staircase. He paused at the end of a second
passage, and held out his hand.

'Here it is,' whispered the attorney, as he deposited the money on the
hand of their guide.

The man stepped forward for a few paces, followed by the two friends and
their legal adviser. He stopped at a door.

'Is this the room?' murmured the little gentleman.

Sam nodded assent.

Old Wardle opened the door; and the whole three walked into the room
just as Mr. Jingle, who had that moment returned, had produced the
licence to the spinster aunt.

The spinster uttered a loud shriek, and throwing herself into a chair,
covered her face with her hands. Mr. Jingle crumpled up the licence, and
thrust it into his coat pocket. The unwelcome visitors advanced into the
middle of the room. 'You--you are a nice rascal, arn't you?' exclaimed
Wardle, breathless with passion.

'My dear Sir, my dear sir,' said the little man, laying his hat on
the table, 'pray, consider--pray. Defamation of character: action for
damages. Calm yourself, my dear sir, pray--'

'How dare you drag my sister from my house?' said the old man.

Ay--ay--very good,' said the little gentleman, 'you may ask that. How
dare you, sir?--eh, sir?'

'Who the devil are you?' inquired Mr. Jingle, in so fierce a tone, that
the little gentleman involuntarily fell back a step or two.

'Who is he, you scoundrel,' interposed Wardle. 'He's my lawyer,
Mr. Perker, of Gray's Inn. Perker, I'll have this fellow
prosecuted--indicted--I'll--I'll--I'll ruin him. And you,' continued Mr.
Wardle, turning abruptly round to his sister--'you, Rachael, at a time
of life when you ought to know better, what do you mean by running away
with a vagabond, disgracing your family, and making yourself miserable?
Get on your bonnet and come back. Call a hackney-coach there, directly,
and bring this lady's bill, d'ye hear--d'ye hear?' 'Cert'nly, Sir,'
replied Sam, who had answered Wardle's violent ringing of the bell with
a degree of celerity which must have appeared marvellous to anybody who
didn't know that his eye had been applied to the outside of the keyhole
during the whole interview.

'Get on your bonnet,' repeated Wardle.

'Do nothing of the kind,' said Jingle. 'Leave the room, Sir--no business
here--lady's free to act as she pleases--more than one-and-twenty.'

'More than one-and-twenty!' ejaculated Wardle contemptuously. 'More than
one-and-forty!'

'I ain't,' said the spinster aunt, her indignation getting the better of
her determination to faint.

'You are,' replied Wardle; 'you're fifty if you're an hour.'

Here the spinster aunt uttered a loud shriek, and became senseless.

'A glass of water,' said the humane Mr. Pickwick, summoning the
landlady.

'A glass of water!' said the passionate Wardle. 'Bring a bucket, and
throw it all over her; it'll do her good, and she richly deserves it.'

'Ugh, you brute!' ejaculated the kind-hearted landlady. 'Poor dear.' And
with sundry ejaculations of 'Come now, there's a dear--drink a little of
this--it'll do you good--don't give way so--there's a love,' etc.
etc., the landlady, assisted by a chambermaid, proceeded to vinegar the
forehead, beat the hands, titillate the nose, and unlace the stays of
the spinster aunt, and to administer such other restoratives as are
usually applied by compassionate females to ladies who are endeavouring
to ferment themselves into hysterics.

'Coach is ready, Sir,' said Sam, appearing at the door.

'Come along,' cried Wardle. 'I'll carry her downstairs.'

At this proposition, the hysterics came on with redoubled violence.
The landlady was about to enter a very violent protest against this
proceeding, and had already given vent to an indignant inquiry whether
Mr. Wardle considered himself a lord of the creation, when Mr. Jingle
interposed--

'Boots,' said he, 'get me an officer.'

'Stay, stay,' said little Mr. Perker. 'Consider, Sir, consider.'

'I'll not consider,' replied Jingle. 'She's her own mistress--see who
dares to take her away--unless she wishes it.'

'I WON'T be taken away,' murmured the spinster aunt. 'I DON'T wish it.'
(Here there was a frightful relapse.)

'My dear Sir,' said the little man, in a low tone, taking Mr. Wardle
and Mr. Pickwick apart--'my dear Sir, we're in a very awkward situation.
It's a distressing case--very; I never knew one more so; but really,
my dear sir, really we have no power to control this lady's actions. I
warned you before we came, my dear sir, that there was nothing to look
to but a compromise.'

There was a short pause.

'What kind of compromise would you recommend?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.

'Why, my dear Sir, our friend's in an unpleasant position--very much so.
We must be content to suffer some pecuniary loss.'

'I'll suffer any, rather than submit to this disgrace, and let her, fool
as she is, be made miserable for life,' said Wardle.

'I rather think it can be done,' said the bustling little man. 'Mr.
Jingle, will you step with us into the next room for a moment?'

Mr. Jingle assented, and the quartette walked into an empty apartment.

'Now, sir,' said the little man, as he carefully closed the door, 'is
there no way of accommodating this matter--step this way, sir, for a
moment--into this window, Sir, where we can be alone--there, sir, there,
pray sit down, sir. Now, my dear Sir, between you and I, we know very
well, my dear Sir, that you have run off with this lady for the sake of
her money. Don't frown, Sir, don't frown; I say, between you and I, WE
know it. We are both men of the world, and WE know very well that our
friends here, are not--eh?'

Mr. Jingle's face gradually relaxed; and something distantly resembling
a wink quivered for an instant in his left eye.

'Very good, very good,' said the little man, observing the impression
he had made. 'Now, the fact is, that beyond a few hundreds, the lady has
little or nothing till the death of her mother--fine old lady, my dear
Sir.'

'OLD,' said Mr. Jingle briefly but emphatically.

'Why, yes,' said the attorney, with a slight cough. 'You are right, my
dear Sir, she is rather old. She comes of an old family though, my dear
Sir; old in every sense of the word. The founder of that family came
into Kent when Julius Caesar invaded Britain;--only one member of it,
since, who hasn't lived to eighty-five, and he was beheaded by one of
the Henrys. The old lady is not seventy-three now, my dear Sir.' The
little man paused, and took a pinch of snuff.

'Well,' cried Mr. Jingle.

'Well, my dear sir--you don't take snuff!--ah! so much the
better--expensive habit--well, my dear Sir, you're a fine young man, man
of the world--able to push your fortune, if you had capital, eh?'

'Well,' said Mr. Jingle again.

'Do you comprehend me?'

'Not quite.'

'Don't you think--now, my dear Sir, I put it to you don't you
think--that fifty pounds and liberty would be better than Miss Wardle
and expectation?'

'Won't do--not half enough!' said Mr. Jingle, rising.

'Nay, nay, my dear Sir,' remonstrated the little attorney, seizing him
by the button. 'Good round sum--a man like you could treble it in no
time--great deal to be done with fifty pounds, my dear Sir.'

'More to be done with a hundred and fifty,' replied Mr. Jingle coolly.

'Well, my dear Sir, we won't waste time in splitting straws,' resumed
the little man, 'say--say--seventy.' 'Won't do,' said Mr. Jingle.

'Don't go away, my dear sir--pray don't hurry,' said the little man.
'Eighty; come: I'll write you a cheque at once.'

'Won't do,' said Mr. Jingle.

'Well, my dear Sir, well,' said the little man, still detaining him;
'just tell me what WILL do.'

'Expensive affair,' said Mr. Jingle. 'Money out of pocket--posting, nine
pounds; licence, three--that's twelve--compensation, a hundred--hundred
and twelve--breach of honour--and loss of the lady--'

'Yes, my dear Sir, yes,' said the little man, with a knowing look,
'never mind the last two items. That's a hundred and twelve--say a
hundred--come.'

'And twenty,' said Mr. Jingle.

'Come, come, I'll write you a cheque,' said the little man; and down he
sat at the table for that purpose.

'I'll make it payable the day after to-morrow,' said the little
man, with a look towards Mr. Wardle; 'and we can get the lady away,
meanwhile.' Mr. Wardle sullenly nodded assent.

'A hundred,' said the little man.

'And twenty,' said Mr. Jingle.

'My dear Sir,' remonstrated the little man.

'Give it him,' interposed Mr. Wardle, 'and let him go.'

The cheque was written by the little gentleman, and pocketed by Mr.
Jingle.

'Now, leave this house instantly!' said Wardle, starting up.

'My dear Sir,' urged the little man.

'And mind,' said Mr. Wardle, 'that nothing should have induced me to
make this compromise--not even a regard for my family--if I had not
known that the moment you got any money in that pocket of yours, you'd
go to the devil faster, if possible, than you would without it--'

'My dear sir,' urged the little man again.

'Be quiet, Perker,' resumed Wardle. 'Leave the room, Sir.'

'Off directly,' said the unabashed Jingle. 'Bye bye, Pickwick.' If
any dispassionate spectator could have beheld the countenance of the
illustrious man, whose name forms the leading feature of the title of
this work, during the latter part of this conversation, he would have
been almost induced to wonder that the indignant fire which flashed from
his eyes did not melt the glasses of his spectacles--so majestic was his
wrath. His nostrils dilated, and his fists clenched involuntarily, as
he heard himself addressed by the villain. But he restrained himself
again--he did not pulverise him.

'Here,' continued the hardened traitor, tossing the licence at Mr.
Pickwick's feet; 'get the name altered--take home the lady--do for
Tuppy.'

Mr. Pickwick was a philosopher, but philosophers are only men in
armour, after all. The shaft had reached him, penetrated through his
philosophical harness, to his very heart. In the frenzy of his rage, he
hurled the inkstand madly forward, and followed it up himself. But Mr.
Jingle had disappeared, and he found himself caught in the arms of Sam.

'Hollo,' said that eccentric functionary, 'furniter's cheap where you
come from, Sir. Self-acting ink, that 'ere; it's wrote your mark upon
the wall, old gen'l'm'n. Hold still, Sir; wot's the use o' runnin' arter
a man as has made his lucky, and got to t'other end of the Borough by
this time?'

Mr. Pickwick's mind, like those of all truly great men, was open
to conviction. He was a quick and powerful reasoner; and a moment's
reflection sufficed to remind him of the impotency of his rage. It
subsided as quickly as it had been roused. He panted for breath, and
looked benignantly round upon his friends.

Shall we tell the lamentations that ensued when Miss Wardle found
herself deserted by the faithless Jingle? Shall we extract Mr.
Pickwick's masterly description of that heartrending scene? His
note-book, blotted with the tears of sympathising humanity, lies open
before us; one word, and it is in the printer's hands. But, no! we will
be resolute! We will not wring the public bosom, with the delineation of
such suffering!

Slowly and sadly did the two friends and the deserted lady return
next day in the Muggleton heavy coach. Dimly and darkly had the sombre
shadows of a summer's night fallen upon all around, when they again
reached Dingley Dell, and stood within the entrance to Manor Farm.



CHAPTER XI. INVOLVING ANOTHER JOURNEY, AND AN ANTIQUARIAN DISCOVERY;
RECORDING Mr. PICKWICK'S DETERMINATION TO BE PRESENT AT AN ELECTION; AND
CONTAINING A MANUSCRIPT OF THE OLD CLERGYMAN'S


A night of quiet and repose in the profound silence of Dingley Dell,
and an hour's breathing of its fresh and fragrant air on the ensuing
morning, completely recovered Mr. Pickwick from the effects of his
late fatigue of body and anxiety of mind. That illustrious man had been
separated from his friends and fol lowers for two whole days; and it was
with a degree of pleasure and delight, which no common imagination can
adequately conceive, that he stepped forward to greet Mr. Winkle and
Mr. Snodgrass, as he encountered those gentlemen on his return from
his early walk. The pleasure was mutual; for who could ever gaze on Mr.
Pickwick's beaming face without experiencing the sensation? But still a
cloud seemed to hang over his companions which that great man could not
but be sensible of, and was wholly at a loss to account for. There was a
mysterious air about them both, as unusual as it was alarming.

'And how,' said Mr. Pickwick, when he had grasped his followers by the
hand, and exchanged warm salutations of welcome--'how is Tupman?'

Mr. Winkle, to whom the question was more peculiarly addressed, made
no reply. He turned away his head, and appeared absorbed in melancholy
reflection.

'Snodgrass,' said Mr. Pickwick earnestly, 'how is our friend--he is not
ill?'

'No,' replied Mr. Snodgrass; and a tear trembled on his sentimental
eyelid, like a rain-drop on a window-frame-'no; he is not ill.'

Mr. Pickwick stopped, and gazed on each of his friends in turn.

'Winkle--Snodgrass,' said Mr. Pickwick; 'what does this mean? Where
is our friend? What has happened? Speak--I conjure, I entreat--nay, I
command you, speak.'

There was a solemnity--a dignity--in Mr. Pickwick's manner, not to be
withstood.

'He is gone,' said Mr. Snodgrass.

'Gone!' exclaimed Mr. Pickwick. 'Gone!'

'Gone,' repeated Mr. Snodgrass.

'Where!' ejaculated Mr. Pickwick.

'We can only guess, from that communication,' replied Mr. Snodgrass,
taking a letter from his pocket, and placing it in his friend's hand.
'Yesterday morning, when a letter was received from Mr. Wardle, stating
that you would be home with his sister at night, the melancholy which
had hung over our friend during the whole of the previous day, was
observed to increase. He shortly afterwards disappeared: he was missing
during the whole day, and in the evening this letter was brought by the
hostler from the Crown, at Muggleton. It had been left in his charge in
the morning, with a strict injunction that it should not be delivered
until night.'

Mr. Pickwick opened the epistle. It was in his friend's hand-writing,
and these were its contents:--

'MY DEAR PICKWICK,--YOU, my dear friend, are placed far beyond the reach
of many mortal frailties and weaknesses which ordinary people cannot
overcome. You do not know what it is, at one blow, to be deserted by a
lovely and fascinating creature, and to fall a victim to the artifices
of a villain, who had the grin of cunning beneath the mask of
friendship. I hope you never may.

'Any letter addressed to me at the Leather Bottle, Cobham, Kent, will
be forwarded--supposing I still exist. I hasten from the sight of
that world, which has become odious to me. Should I hasten from it
altogether, pity--forgive me. Life, my dear Pickwick, has become
insupportable to me. The spirit which burns within us, is a porter's
knot, on which to rest the heavy load of worldly cares and troubles; and
when that spirit fails us, the burden is too heavy to be borne. We sink
beneath it. You may tell Rachael--Ah, that name!--

                                        'TRACY TupmAN.'


'We must leave this place directly,' said Mr. Pickwick, as he refolded
the note. 'It would not have been decent for us to remain here, under
any circumstances, after what has happened; and now we are bound to
follow in search of our friend.' And so saying, he led the way to the
house.

His intention was rapidly communicated. The entreaties to remain were
pressing, but Mr. Pickwick was inflexible. Business, he said, required
his immediate attendance.

The old clergyman was present.

'You are not really going?' said he, taking Mr. Pickwick aside.

Mr. Pickwick reiterated his former determination.

'Then here,' said the old gentleman, 'is a little manuscript, which I
had hoped to have the pleasure of reading to you myself. I found it
on the death of a friend of mine--a medical man, engaged in our county
lunatic asylum--among a variety of papers, which I had the option of
destroying or preserving, as I thought proper. I can hardly believe that
the manuscript is genuine, though it certainly is not in my friend's
hand. However, whether it be the genuine production of a maniac, or
founded upon the ravings of some unhappy being (which I think more
probable), read it, and judge for yourself.'

Mr. Pickwick received the manuscript, and parted from the benevolent old
gentleman with many expressions of good-will and esteem.

It was a more difficult task to take leave of the inmates of Manor
Farm, from whom they had received so much hospitality and kindness. Mr.
Pickwick kissed the young ladies--we were going to say, as if they were
his own daughters, only, as he might possibly have infused a little
more warmth into the salutation, the comparison would not be quite
appropriate--hugged the old lady with filial cordiality; and patted the
rosy cheeks of the female servants in a most patriarchal manner, as he
slipped into the hands of each some more substantial expression of his
approval. The exchange of cordialities with their fine old host and Mr.
Trundle was even more hearty and prolonged; and it was not until Mr.
Snodgrass had been several times called for, and at last emerged from
a dark passage followed soon after by Emily (whose bright eyes looked
unusually dim), that the three friends were enabled to tear themselves
from their friendly entertainers. Many a backward look they gave at the
farm, as they walked slowly away; and many a kiss did Mr. Snodgrass
waft in the air, in acknowledgment of something very like a lady's
handkerchief, which was waved from one of the upper windows, until a
turn of the lane hid the old house from their sight.

At Muggleton they procured a conveyance to Rochester. By the time
they reached the last-named place, the violence of their grief had
sufficiently abated to admit of their making a very excellent early
dinner; and having procured the necessary information relative to the
road, the three friends set forward again in the afternoon to walk to
Cobham.

A delightful walk it was; for it was a pleasant afternoon in June, and
their way lay through a deep and shady wood, cooled by the light wind
which gently rustled the thick foliage, and enlivened by the songs of
the birds that perched upon the boughs. The ivy and the moss crept in
thick clusters over the old trees, and the soft green turf overspread
the ground like a silken mat. They emerged upon an open park, with an
ancient hall, displaying the quaint and picturesque architecture of
Elizabeth's time. Long vistas of stately oaks and elm trees appeared
on every side; large herds of deer were cropping the fresh grass; and
occasionally a startled hare scoured along the ground, with the speed
of the shadows thrown by the light clouds which swept across a sunny
landscape like a passing breath of summer.

'If this,' said Mr. Pickwick, looking about him--'if this were the place
to which all who are troubled with our friend's complaint came, I fancy
their old attachment to this world would very soon return.'

'I think so too,' said Mr. Winkle.

'And really,' added Mr. Pickwick, after half an hour's walking had
brought them to the village, 'really, for a misanthrope's choice, this
is one of the prettiest and most desirable places of residence I ever
met with.'

In this opinion also, both Mr. Winkle and Mr. Snodgrass expressed their
concurrence; and having been directed to the Leather Bottle, a clean and
commodious village ale-house, the three travellers entered, and at once
inquired for a gentleman of the name of Tupman.

'Show the gentlemen into the parlour, Tom,' said the landlady.

A stout country lad opened a door at the end of the passage, and the
three friends entered a long, low-roofed room, furnished with a large
number of high-backed leather-cushioned chairs, of fantastic shapes, and
embellished with a great variety of old portraits and roughly-coloured
prints of some antiquity. At the upper end of the room was a table, with
a white cloth upon it, well covered with a roast fowl, bacon, ale, and
et ceteras; and at the table sat Mr. Tupman, looking as unlike a man who
had taken his leave of the world, as possible.

On the entrance of his friends, that gentleman laid down his knife and
fork, and with a mournful air advanced to meet them.

'I did not expect to see you here,' he said, as he grasped Mr.
Pickwick's hand. 'It's very kind.'

'Ah!' said Mr. Pickwick, sitting down, and wiping from his forehead the
perspiration which the walk had engendered. 'Finish your dinner, and
walk out with me. I wish to speak to you alone.'

Mr. Tupman did as he was desired; and Mr. Pickwick having refreshed
himself with a copious draught of ale, waited his friend's leisure. The
dinner was quickly despatched, and they walked out together.

For half an hour, their forms might have been seen pacing the churchyard
to and fro, while Mr. Pickwick was engaged in combating his companion's
resolution. Any repetition of his arguments would be useless; for what
language could convey to them that energy and force which their great
originator's manner communicated? Whether Mr. Tupman was already tired
of retirement, or whether he was wholly unable to resist the eloquent
appeal which was made to him, matters not, he did NOT resist it at last.

'It mattered little to him,' he said, 'where he dragged out the
miserable remainder of his days; and since his friend laid so much
stress upon his humble companionship, he was willing to share his
adventures.'

Mr. Pickwick smiled; they shook hands, and walked back to rejoin their
companions.

It was at this moment that Mr. Pickwick made that immortal discovery,
which has been the pride and boast of his friends, and the envy of every
antiquarian in this or any other country. They had passed the door
of their inn, and walked a little way down the village, before they
recollected the precise spot in which it stood. As they turned back, Mr.
Pickwick's eye fell upon a small broken stone, partially buried in the
ground, in front of a cottage door. He paused.

'This is very strange,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'What is strange?' inquired Mr. Tupman, staring eagerly at every object
near him, but the right one. 'God bless me, what's the matter?'

This last was an ejaculation of irrepressible astonishment, occasioned
by seeing Mr. Pickwick, in his enthusiasm for discovery, fall on his
knees before the little stone, and commence wiping the dust off it with
his pocket-handkerchief.

'There is an inscription here,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Is it possible?' said Mr. Tupman.

'I can discern,'continued Mr. Pickwick, rubbing away with all his might,
and gazing intently through his spectacles--'I can discern a cross, and
a 13, and then a T. This is important,' continued Mr. Pickwick, starting
up. 'This is some very old inscription, existing perhaps long before the
ancient alms-houses in this place. It must not be lost.'

He tapped at the cottage door. A labouring man opened it.

'Do you know how this stone came here, my friend?' inquired the
benevolent Mr. Pickwick.

'No, I doan't, Sir,' replied the man civilly. 'It was here long afore I
was born, or any on us.'

Mr. Pickwick glanced triumphantly at his companion.

'You--you--are not particularly attached to it, I dare say,' said Mr.
Pickwick, trembling with anxiety. 'You wouldn't mind selling it, now?'

'Ah! but who'd buy it?' inquired the man, with an expression of face
which he probably meant to be very cunning.

'I'll give you ten shillings for it, at once,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'if
you would take it up for me.'

The astonishment of the village may be easily imagined, when (the little
stone having been raised with one wrench of a spade) Mr. Pickwick, by
dint of great personal exertion, bore it with his own hands to the inn,
and after having carefully washed it, deposited it on the table.

The exultation and joy of the Pickwickians knew no bounds, when their
patience and assiduity, their washing and scraping, were crowned
with success. The stone was uneven and broken, and the letters were
straggling and irregular, but the following fragment of an inscription
was clearly to be deciphered:--


          [cross]   B I L S T
                  u m
                   P S H I
                    S. M.
                    ARK

Mr. Pickwick's eyes sparkled with delight, as he sat and gloated over
the treasure he had discovered. He had attained one of the greatest
objects of his ambition. In a county known to abound in the remains of
the early ages; in a village in which there still existed some memorials
of the olden time, he--he, the chairman of the Pickwick Club--had
discovered a strange and curious inscription of unquestionable
antiquity, which had wholly escaped the observation of the many learned
men who had preceded him. He could hardly trust the evidence of his
senses.

'This--this,' said he, 'determines me. We return to town to-morrow.'

'To-morrow!' exclaimed his admiring followers.

'To-morrow,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'This treasure must be at once deposited
where it can be thoroughly investigated and properly understood. I have
another reason for this step. In a few days, an election is to take
place for the borough of Eatanswill, at which Mr. Perker, a gentleman
whom I lately met, is the agent of one of the candidates. We will
behold, and minutely examine, a scene so interesting to every
Englishman.'

'We will,' was the animated cry of three voices.

Mr. Pickwick looked round him. The attachment and fervour of his
followers lighted up a glow of enthusiasm within him. He was their
leader, and he felt it.

'Let us celebrate this happy meeting with a convivial glass,' said he.
This proposition, like the other, was received with unanimous applause.
Having himself deposited the important stone in a small deal box,
purchased from the landlady for the purpose, he placed himself in an
arm-chair, at the head of the table; and the evening was devoted to
festivity and conversation.

It was past eleven o'clock--a late hour for the little village of
Cobham--when Mr. Pickwick retired to the bedroom which had been prepared
for his reception. He threw open the lattice window, and setting his
light upon the table, fell into a train of meditation on the hurried
events of the two preceding days.

The hour and the place were both favourable to contemplation; Mr.
Pickwick was roused by the church clock striking twelve. The first
stroke of the hour sounded solemnly in his ear, but when the bell ceased
the stillness seemed insupportable--he almost felt as if he had lost a
companion. He was nervous and excited; and hastily undressing himself
and placing his light in the chimney, got into bed.

Every one has experienced that disagreeable state of mind, in which a
sensation of bodily weariness in vain contends against an inability to
sleep. It was Mr. Pickwick's condition at this moment: he tossed first
on one side and then on the other; and perseveringly closed his eyes
as if to coax himself to slumber. It was of no use. Whether it was
the unwonted exertion he had undergone, or the heat, or the
brandy-and-water, or the strange bed--whatever it was, his thoughts kept
reverting very uncomfortably to the grim pictures downstairs, and the
old stories to which they had given rise in the course of the evening.
After half an hour's tumbling about, he came to the unsatisfactory
conclusion, that it was of no use trying to sleep; so he got up and
partially dressed himself. Anything, he thought, was better than lying
there fancying all kinds of horrors. He looked out of the window--it was
very dark. He walked about the room--it was very lonely.

He had taken a few turns from the door to the window, and from the
window to the door, when the clergyman's manuscript for the first time
entered his head. It was a good thought. If it failed to interest him,
it might send him to sleep. He took it from his coat pocket, and
drawing a small table towards his bedside, trimmed the light, put on his
spectacles, and composed himself to read. It was a strange handwriting,
and the paper was much soiled and blotted. The title gave him a sudden
start, too; and he could not avoid casting a wistful glance round
the room. Reflecting on the absurdity of giving way to such feelings,
however, he trimmed the light again, and read as follows:--


  A MADMAN'S MANUSCRIPT

'Yes!--a madman's! How that word would have struck to my heart, many
years ago! How it would have roused the terror that used to come upon me
sometimes, sending the blood hissing and tingling through my veins, till
the cold dew of fear stood in large drops upon my skin, and my knees
knocked together with fright! I like it now though. It's a fine name.
Show me the monarch whose angry frown was ever feared like the glare of
a madman's eye--whose cord and axe were ever half so sure as a madman's
gripe. Ho! ho! It's a grand thing to be mad! to be peeped at like a wild
lion through the iron bars--to gnash one's teeth and howl, through the
long still night, to the merry ring of a heavy chain and to roll and
twine among the straw, transported with such brave music. Hurrah for the
madhouse! Oh, it's a rare place!

'I remember days when I was afraid of being mad; when I used to start
from my sleep, and fall upon my knees, and pray to be spared from
the curse of my race; when I rushed from the sight of merriment or
happiness, to hide myself in some lonely place, and spend the weary
hours in watching the progress of the fever that was to consume my
brain. I knew that madness was mixed up with my very blood, and the
marrow of my bones! that one generation had passed away without the
pestilence appearing among them, and that I was the first in whom it
would revive. I knew it must be so: that so it always had been, and so
it ever would be: and when I cowered in some obscure corner of a crowded
room, and saw men whisper, and point, and turn their eyes towards me, I
knew they were telling each other of the doomed madman; and I slunk away
again to mope in solitude.

'I did this for years; long, long years they were. The nights here are
long sometimes--very long; but they are nothing to the restless nights,
and dreadful dreams I had at that time. It makes me cold to remember
them. Large dusky forms with sly and jeering faces crouched in the
corners of the room, and bent over my bed at night, tempting me to
madness. They told me in low whispers, that the floor of the old house
in which my father died, was stained with his own blood, shed by his
own hand in raging madness. I drove my fingers into my ears, but they
screamed into my head till the room rang with it, that in one generation
before him the madness slumbered, but that his grandfather had lived
for years with his hands fettered to the ground, to prevent his tearing
himself to pieces. I knew they told the truth--I knew it well. I had
found it out years before, though they had tried to keep it from me. Ha!
ha! I was too cunning for them, madman as they thought me.

'At last it came upon me, and I wondered how I could ever have feared
it. I could go into the world now, and laugh and shout with the best
among them. I knew I was mad, but they did not even suspect it. How I
used to hug myself with delight, when I thought of the fine trick I was
playing them after their old pointing and leering, when I was not mad,
but only dreading that I might one day become so! And how I used to
laugh for joy, when I was alone, and thought how well I kept my secret,
and how quickly my kind friends would have fallen from me, if they had
known the truth. I could have screamed with ecstasy when I dined alone
with some fine roaring fellow, to think how pale he would have turned,
and how fast he would have run, if he had known that the dear friend who
sat close to him, sharpening a bright, glittering knife, was a madman
with all the power, and half the will, to plunge it in his heart. Oh, it
was a merry life!

'Riches became mine, wealth poured in upon me, and I rioted in pleasures
enhanced a thousandfold to me by the consciousness of my well-kept
secret. I inherited an estate. The law--the eagle-eyed law itself--had
been deceived, and had handed over disputed thousands to a madman's
hands. Where was the wit of the sharp-sighted men of sound mind? Where
the dexterity of the lawyers, eager to discover a flaw? The madman's
cunning had overreached them all.

'I had money. How I was courted! I spent it profusely. How I was
praised! How those three proud, overbearing brothers humbled themselves
before me! The old, white-headed father, too--such deference--such
respect--such devoted friendship--he worshipped me! The old man had a
daughter, and the young men a sister; and all the five were poor. I was
rich; and when I married the girl, I saw a smile of triumph play upon
the faces of her needy relatives, as they thought of their well-planned
scheme, and their fine prize. It was for me to smile. To smile! To laugh
outright, and tear my hair, and roll upon the ground with shrieks of
merriment. They little thought they had married her to a madman.

'Stay. If they had known it, would they have saved her? A sister's
happiness against her husband's gold. The lightest feather I blow into
the air, against the gay chain that ornaments my body!

'In one thing I was deceived with all my cunning. If I had not been
mad--for though we madmen are sharp-witted enough, we get bewildered
sometimes--I should have known that the girl would rather have been
placed, stiff and cold in a dull leaden coffin, than borne an envied
bride to my rich, glittering house. I should have known that her heart
was with the dark-eyed boy whose name I once heard her breathe in her
troubled sleep; and that she had been sacrificed to me, to relieve the
poverty of the old, white-headed man and the haughty brothers.

'I don't remember forms or faces now, but I know the girl was beautiful.
I know she was; for in the bright moonlight nights, when I start up
from my sleep, and all is quiet about me, I see, standing still and
motionless in one corner of this cell, a slight and wasted figure with
long black hair, which, streaming down her back, stirs with no earthly
wind, and eyes that fix their gaze on me, and never wink or close. Hush!
the blood chills at my heart as I write it down--that form is HERS; the
face is very pale, and the eyes are glassy bright; but I know them well.
That figure never moves; it never frowns and mouths as others do, that
fill this place sometimes; but it is much more dreadful to me, even
than the spirits that tempted me many years ago--it comes fresh from the
grave; and is so very death-like.

'For nearly a year I saw that face grow paler; for nearly a year I saw
the tears steal down the mournful cheeks, and never knew the cause. I
found it out at last though. They could not keep it from me long. She
had never liked me; I had never thought she did: she despised my wealth,
and hated the splendour in which she lived; but I had not expected that.
She loved another. This I had never thought of. Strange feelings came
over me, and thoughts, forced upon me by some secret power, whirled
round and round my brain. I did not hate her, though I hated the boy she
still wept for. I pitied--yes, I pitied--the wretched life to which her
cold and selfish relations had doomed her. I knew that she could not
live long; but the thought that before her death she might give birth
to some ill-fated being, destined to hand down madness to its offspring,
determined me. I resolved to kill her.

'For many weeks I thought of poison, and then of drowning, and then of
fire. A fine sight, the grand house in flames, and the madman's wife
smouldering away to cinders. Think of the jest of a large reward, too,
and of some sane man swinging in the wind for a deed he never did, and
all through a madman's cunning! I thought often of this, but I gave
it up at last. Oh! the pleasure of stropping the razor day after day,
feeling the sharp edge, and thinking of the gash one stroke of its thin,
bright edge would make! 'At last the old spirits who had been with me so
often before whispered in my ear that the time was come, and thrust the
open razor into my hand. I grasped it firmly, rose softly from the bed,
and leaned over my sleeping wife. Her face was buried in her hands. I
withdrew them softly, and they fell listlessly on her bosom. She had
been weeping; for the traces of the tears were still wet upon her cheek.
Her face was calm and placid; and even as I looked upon it, a tranquil
smile lighted up her pale features. I laid my hand softly on her
shoulder. She started--it was only a passing dream. I leaned forward
again. She screamed, and woke.

'One motion of my hand, and she would never again have uttered cry or
sound. But I was startled, and drew back. Her eyes were fixed on mine.
I knew not how it was, but they cowed and frightened me; and I quailed
beneath them. She rose from the bed, still gazing fixedly and steadily
on me. I trembled; the razor was in my hand, but I could not move. She
made towards the door. As she neared it, she turned, and withdrew her
eyes from my face. The spell was broken. I bounded forward, and clutched
her by the arm. Uttering shriek upon shriek, she sank upon the ground.

'Now I could have killed her without a struggle; but the house was
alarmed. I heard the tread of footsteps on the stairs. I replaced the
razor in its usual drawer, unfastened the door, and called loudly for
assistance.

'They came, and raised her, and placed her on the bed. She lay bereft
of animation for hours; and when life, look, and speech returned, her
senses had deserted her, and she raved wildly and furiously.

'Doctors were called in--great men who rolled up to my door in easy
carriages, with fine horses and gaudy servants. They were at her bedside
for weeks. They had a great meeting and consulted together in low and
solemn voices in another room. One, the cleverest and most celebrated
among them, took me aside, and bidding me prepare for the worst, told
me--me, the madman!--that my wife was mad. He stood close beside me at
an open window, his eyes looking in my face, and his hand laid upon my
arm. With one effort, I could have hurled him into the street beneath.
It would have been rare sport to have done it; but my secret was at
stake, and I let him go. A few days after, they told me I must place her
under some restraint: I must provide a keeper for her. I! I went into
the open fields where none could hear me, and laughed till the air
resounded with my shouts!

'She died next day. The white-headed old man followed her to the grave,
and the proud brothers dropped a tear over the insensible corpse of her
whose sufferings they had regarded in her lifetime with muscles of iron.
All this was food for my secret mirth, and I laughed behind the white
handkerchief which I held up to my face, as we rode home, till the tears
Came into my eyes.

'But though I had carried my object and killed her, I was restless and
disturbed, and I felt that before long my secret must be known. I could
not hide the wild mirth and joy which boiled within me, and made me
when I was alone, at home, jump up and beat my hands together, and
dance round and round, and roar aloud. When I went out, and saw the
busy crowds hurrying about the streets; or to the theatre, and heard the
sound of music, and beheld the people dancing, I felt such glee, that
I could have rushed among them, and torn them to pieces limb from limb,
and howled in transport. But I ground my teeth, and struck my feet upon
the floor, and drove my sharp nails into my hands. I kept it down; and
no one knew I was a madman yet.

'I remember--though it's one of the last things I can remember: for now
I mix up realities with my dreams, and having so much to do, and being
always hurried here, have no time to separate the two, from some strange
confusion in which they get involved--I remember how I let it out at
last. Ha! ha! I think I see their frightened looks now, and feel the
ease with which I flung them from me, and dashed my clenched fist into
their white faces, and then flew like the wind, and left them screaming
and shouting far behind. The strength of a giant comes upon me when
I think of it. There--see how this iron bar bends beneath my furious
wrench. I could snap it like a twig, only there are long galleries here
with many doors--I don't think I could find my way along them; and even
if I could, I know there are iron gates below which they keep locked and
barred. They know what a clever madman I have been, and they are proud
to have me here, to show.

'Let me see: yes, I had been out. It was late at night when I reached
home, and found the proudest of the three proud brothers waiting to see
me--urgent business he said: I recollect it well. I hated that man with
all a madman's hate. Many and many a time had my fingers longed to tear
him. They told me he was there. I ran swiftly upstairs. He had a word
to say to me. I dismissed the servants. It was late, and we were alone
together--for the first time.

'I kept my eyes carefully from him at first, for I knew what he little
thought--and I gloried in the knowledge--that the light of madness
gleamed from them like fire. We sat in silence for a few minutes. He
spoke at last. My recent dissipation, and strange remarks, made so
soon after his sister's death, were an insult to her memory. Coupling
together many circumstances which had at first escaped his observation,
he thought I had not treated her well. He wished to know whether he was
right in inferring that I meant to cast a reproach upon her memory,
and a disrespect upon her family. It was due to the uniform he wore, to
demand this explanation.

'This man had a commission in the army--a commission, purchased with my
money, and his sister's misery! This was the man who had been foremost
in the plot to ensnare me, and grasp my wealth. This was the man who had
been the main instrument in forcing his sister to wed me; well knowing
that her heart was given to that puling boy. Due to his uniform! The
livery of his degradation! I turned my eyes upon him--I could not help
it--but I spoke not a word.

'I saw the sudden change that came upon him beneath my gaze. He was
a bold man, but the colour faded from his face, and he drew back his
chair. I dragged mine nearer to him; and I laughed--I was very merry
then--I saw him shudder. I felt the madness rising within me. He was
afraid of me.

'"You were very fond of your sister when she was alive," I
said.--"Very."

'He looked uneasily round him, and I saw his hand grasp the back of his
chair; but he said nothing.

'"You villain," said I, "I found you out: I discovered your hellish
plots against me; I know her heart was fixed on some one else before you
compelled her to marry me. I know it--I know it."

'He jumped suddenly from his chair, brandished it aloft, and bid me
stand back--for I took care to be getting closer to him all the time I
spoke.

'I screamed rather than talked, for I felt tumultuous passions eddying
through my veins, and the old spirits whispering and taunting me to tear
his heart out.

'"Damn you," said I, starting up, and rushing upon him; "I killed her. I
am a madman. Down with you. Blood, blood! I will have it!"

'I turned aside with one blow the chair he hurled at me in his terror,
and closed with him; and with a heavy crash we rolled upon the floor
together. 'It was a fine struggle that; for he was a tall, strong man,
fighting for his life; and I, a powerful madman, thirsting to destroy
him. I knew no strength could equal mine, and I was right. Right again,
though a madman! His struggles grew fainter. I knelt upon his chest, and
clasped his brawny throat firmly with both hands. His face grew purple;
his eyes were starting from his head, and with protruded tongue, he
seemed to mock me. I squeezed the tighter. 'The door was suddenly burst
open with a loud noise, and a crowd of people rushed forward, crying
aloud to each other to secure the madman.

'My secret was out; and my only struggle now was for liberty and
freedom. I gained my feet before a hand was on me, threw myself among
my assailants, and cleared my way with my strong arm, as if I bore a
hatchet in my hand, and hewed them down before me. I gained the door,
dropped over the banisters, and in an instant was in the street.

'Straight and swift I ran, and no one dared to stop me. I heard the
noise of the feet behind, and redoubled my speed. It grew fainter and
fainter in the distance, and at length died away altogether; but on I
bounded, through marsh and rivulet, over fence and wall, with a wild
shout which was taken up by the strange beings that flocked around me on
every side, and swelled the sound, till it pierced the air. I was borne
upon the arms of demons who swept along upon the wind, and bore down
bank and hedge before them, and spun me round and round with a rustle
and a speed that made my head swim, until at last they threw me from
them with a violent shock, and I fell heavily upon the earth. When I
woke I found myself here--here in this gray cell, where the sunlight
seldom comes, and the moon steals in, in rays which only serve to show
the dark shadows about me, and that silent figure in its old corner.
When I lie awake, I can sometimes hear strange shrieks and cries from
distant parts of this large place. What they are, I know not; but they
neither come from that pale form, nor does it regard them. For from the
first shades of dusk till the earliest light of morning, it still stands
motionless in the same place, listening to the music of my iron chain,
and watching my gambols on my straw bed.'

At the end of the manuscript was written, in another hand, this note:--


[The unhappy man whose ravings are recorded above, was a melancholy
instance of the baneful results of energies misdirected in early life,
and excesses prolonged until their consequences could never be repaired.
The thoughtless riot, dissipation, and debauchery of his younger days
produced fever and delirium. The first effects of the latter was the
strange delusion, founded upon a well-known medical theory, strongly
contended for by some, and as strongly contested by others, that an
hereditary madness existed in his family. This produced a settled gloom,
which in time developed a morbid insanity, and finally terminated in
raving madness. There is every reason to believe that the events
he detailed, though distorted in the description by his diseased
imagination, really happened. It is only matter of wonder to those who
were acquainted with the vices of his early career, that his passions,
when no longer controlled by reason, did not lead him to the commission
of still more frightful deeds.]

Mr. Pickwick's candle was just expiring in the socket, as he concluded
the perusal of the old clergyman's manuscript; and when the light
went suddenly out, without any previous flicker by way of warning, it
communicated a very considerable start to his excited frame. Hastily
throwing off such articles of clothing as he had put on when he rose
from his uneasy bed, and casting a fearful glance around, he once more
scrambled hastily between the sheets, and soon fell fast asleep.

The sun was shining brilliantly into his chamber, when he awoke, and
the morning was far advanced. The gloom which had oppressed him on the
previous night had disappeared with the dark shadows which shrouded the
landscape, and his thoughts and feelings were as light and gay as the
morning itself. After a hearty breakfast, the four gentlemen sallied
forth to walk to Gravesend, followed by a man bearing the stone in its
deal box. They reached the town about one o'clock (their luggage they
had directed to be forwarded to the city, from Rochester), and being
fortunate enough to secure places on the outside of a coach, arrived in
London in sound health and spirits, on that same afternoon.

The next three or four days were occupied with the preparations which
were necessary for their journey to the borough of Eatanswill. As
any references to that most important undertaking demands a separate
chapter, we may devote the few lines which remain at the close of
this, to narrate, with great brevity, the history of the antiquarian
discovery.

It appears from the Transactions of the Club, then, that Mr. Pickwick
lectured upon the discovery at a General Club Meeting, convened on the
night succeeding their return, and entered into a variety of ingenious
and erudite speculations on the meaning of the inscription. It also
appears that a skilful artist executed a faithful delineation of the
curiosity, which was engraven on stone, and presented to the Royal
Antiquarian Society, and other learned bodies: that heart-burnings and
jealousies without number were created by rival controversies which were
penned upon the subject; and that Mr. Pickwick himself wrote a pamphlet,
containing ninety-six pages of very small print, and twenty-seven
different readings of the inscription: that three old gentlemen cut off
their eldest sons with a shilling a-piece for presuming to doubt the
antiquity of the fragment; and that one enthusiastic individual cut
himself off prematurely, in despair at being unable to fathom its
meaning: that Mr. Pickwick was elected an honorary member of seventeen
native and foreign societies, for making the discovery: that none of the
seventeen could make anything of it; but that all the seventeen agreed
it was very extraordinary.

Mr. Blotton, indeed--and the name will be doomed to the undying contempt
of those who cultivate the mysterious and the sublime--Mr. Blotton, we
say, with the doubt and cavilling peculiar to vulgar minds, presumed to
state a view of the case, as degrading as ridiculous. Mr. Blotton, with
a mean desire to tarnish the lustre of the immortal name of Pickwick,
actually undertook a journey to Cobham in person, and on his return,
sarcastically observed in an oration at the club, that he had seen the
man from whom the stone was purchased; that the man presumed the
stone to be ancient, but solemnly denied the antiquity of the
inscription--inasmuch as he represented it to have been rudely carved by
himself in an idle mood, and to display letters intended to bear neither
more or less than the simple construction of--'BILL STUMPS, HIS MARK';
and that Mr. Stumps, being little in the habit of original composition,
and more accustomed to be guided by the sound of words than by the
strict rules of orthography, had omitted the concluding 'L' of his
Christian name.

The Pickwick Club (as might have been expected from so enlightened an
institution) received this statement with the contempt it deserved,
expelled the presumptuous and ill-conditioned Blotton from the society,
and voted Mr. Pickwick a pair of gold spectacles, in token of their
confidence and approbation: in return for which, Mr. Pickwick caused a
portrait of himself to be painted, and hung up in the club room.

Mr. Blotton was ejected but not conquered. He also wrote a pamphlet,
addressed to the seventeen learned societies, native and foreign,
containing a repetition of the statement he had already made, and
rather more than half intimating his opinion that the seventeen learned
societies were so many 'humbugs.' Hereupon, the virtuous indignation of
the seventeen learned societies being roused, several fresh pamphlets
appeared; the foreign learned societies corresponded with the native
learned societies; the native learned societies translated the pamphlets
of the foreign learned societies into English; the foreign learned
societies translated the pamphlets of the native learned societies into
all sorts of languages; and thus commenced that celebrated scientific
discussion so well known to all men, as the Pickwick controversy.

But this base attempt to injure Mr. Pickwick recoiled upon the head of
its calumnious author. The seventeen learned societies unanimously voted
the presumptuous Blotton an ignorant meddler, and forthwith set to work
upon more treatises than ever. And to this day the stone remains, an
illegible monument of Mr. Pickwick's greatness, and a lasting trophy to
the littleness of his enemies.



CHAPTER XII. DESCRIPTIVE OF A VERY IMPORTANT PROCEEDING ON THE PART OF
Mr. PICKWICK; NO LESS AN EPOCH IN HIS LIFE, THAN IN THIS HISTORY


Mr. Pickwick's apartments in Goswell Street, although on a limited
scale, were not only of a very neat and comfortable description,
but peculiarly adapted for the residence of a man of his genius and
observation. His sitting-room was the first-floor front, his bedroom the
second-floor front; and thus, whether he were sitting at his desk in his
parlour, or standing before the dressing-glass in his dormitory, he had
an equal opportunity of contemplating human nature in all the numerous
phases it exhibits, in that not more populous than popular thoroughfare.
His landlady, Mrs. Bardell--the relict and sole executrix of a deceased
custom-house officer--was a comely woman of bustling manners and
agreeable appearance, with a natural genius for cooking, improved
by study and long practice, into an exquisite talent. There were no
children, no servants, no fowls. The only other inmates of the house
were a large man and a small boy; the first a lodger, the second a
production of Mrs. Bardell's. The large man was always home precisely at
ten o'clock at night, at which hour he regularly condensed himself into
the limits of a dwarfish French bedstead in the back parlour; and
the infantine sports and gymnastic exercises of Master Bardell were
exclusively confined to the neighbouring pavements and gutters.
Cleanliness and quiet reigned throughout the house; and in it Mr.
Pickwick's will was law.

To any one acquainted with these points of the domestic economy of
the establishment, and conversant with the admirable regulation of Mr.
Pickwick's mind, his appearance and behaviour on the morning previous to
that which had been fixed upon for the journey to Eatanswill would have
been most mysterious and unaccountable. He paced the room to and fro
with hurried steps, popped his head out of the window at intervals
of about three minutes each, constantly referred to his watch, and
exhibited many other manifestations of impatience very unusual with him.
It was evident that something of great importance was in contemplation,
but what that something was, not even Mrs. Bardell had been enabled to
discover.

'Mrs. Bardell,' said Mr. Pickwick, at last, as that amiable female
approached the termination of a prolonged dusting of the apartment.

'Sir,' said Mrs. Bardell.

'Your little boy is a very long time gone.'

'Why it's a good long way to the Borough, sir,' remonstrated Mrs.
Bardell.

'Ah,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'very true; so it is.' Mr. Pickwick relapsed
into silence, and Mrs. Bardell resumed her dusting.

'Mrs. Bardell,' said Mr. Pickwick, at the expiration of a few minutes.

'Sir,' said Mrs. Bardell again. 'Do you think it a much greater expense
to keep two people, than to keep one?'

'La, Mr. Pickwick,' said Mrs. Bardell, colouring up to the very border
of her cap, as she fancied she observed a species of matrimonial twinkle
in the eyes of her lodger; 'La, Mr. Pickwick, what a question!'

'Well, but do you?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.

'That depends,' said Mrs. Bardell, approaching the duster very near to
Mr. Pickwick's elbow which was planted on the table. 'That depends a
good deal upon the person, you know, Mr. Pickwick; and whether it's a
saving and careful person, sir.'

'That's very true,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'but the person I have in my
eye (here he looked very hard at Mrs. Bardell) I think possesses these
qualities; and has, moreover, a considerable knowledge of the world, and
a great deal of sharpness, Mrs. Bardell, which may be of material use to
me.'

'La, Mr. Pickwick,' said Mrs. Bardell, the crimson rising to her
cap-border again.

'I do,' said Mr. Pickwick, growing energetic, as was his wont in
speaking of a subject which interested him--'I do, indeed; and to tell
you the truth, Mrs. Bardell, I have made up my mind.'

'Dear me, sir,'exclaimed Mrs. Bardell.

'You'll think it very strange now,' said the amiable Mr. Pickwick, with
a good-humoured glance at his companion, 'that I never consulted you
about this matter, and never even mentioned it, till I sent your little
boy out this morning--eh?'

Mrs. Bardell could only reply by a look. She had long worshipped Mr.
Pickwick at a distance, but here she was, all at once, raised to a
pinnacle to which her wildest and most extravagant hopes had never
dared to aspire. Mr. Pickwick was going to propose--a deliberate plan,
too--sent her little boy to the Borough, to get him out of the way--how
thoughtful--how considerate!

'Well,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'what do you think?'

'Oh, Mr. Pickwick,' said Mrs. Bardell, trembling with agitation, 'you're
very kind, sir.'

'It'll save you a good deal of trouble, won't it?' said Mr. Pickwick.
'Oh, I never thought anything of the trouble, sir,' replied Mrs.
Bardell; 'and, of course, I should take more trouble to please you
then, than ever; but it is so kind of you, Mr. Pickwick, to have so much
consideration for my loneliness.'

'Ah, to be sure,' said Mr. Pickwick; 'I never thought of that. When I am
in town, you'll always have somebody to sit with you. To be sure, so you
will.'

'I am sure I ought to be a very happy woman,' said Mrs. Bardell.

'And your little boy--' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Bless his heart!' interposed Mrs. Bardell, with a maternal sob.

'He, too, will have a companion,' resumed Mr. Pickwick, 'a lively one,
who'll teach him, I'll be bound, more tricks in a week than he would
ever learn in a year.' And Mr. Pickwick smiled placidly.

'Oh, you dear--' said Mrs. Bardell.

Mr. Pickwick started.

'Oh, you kind, good, playful dear,' said Mrs. Bardell; and without more
ado, she rose from her chair, and flung her arms round Mr. Pickwick's
neck, with a cataract of tears and a chorus of sobs.

'Bless my soul,' cried the astonished Mr. Pickwick; 'Mrs. Bardell, my
good woman--dear me, what a situation--pray consider.--Mrs. Bardell,
don't--if anybody should come--'

'Oh, let them come,' exclaimed Mrs. Bardell frantically; 'I'll never
leave you--dear, kind, good soul;' and, with these words, Mrs. Bardell
clung the tighter.

'Mercy upon me,' said Mr. Pickwick, struggling violently, 'I hear
somebody coming up the stairs. Don't, don't, there's a good creature,
don't.' But entreaty and remonstrance were alike unavailing; for Mrs.
Bardell had fainted in Mr. Pickwick's arms; and before he could gain
time to deposit her on a chair, Master Bardell entered the room,
ushering in Mr. Tupman, Mr. Winkle, and Mr. Snodgrass.

Mr. Pickwick was struck motionless and speechless. He stood with his
lovely burden in his arms, gazing vacantly on the countenances of his
friends, without the slightest attempt at recognition or explanation.
They, in their turn, stared at him; and Master Bardell, in his turn,
stared at everybody.

The astonishment of the Pickwickians was so absorbing, and the
perplexity of Mr. Pickwick was so extreme, that they might have remained
in exactly the same relative situations until the suspended animation of
the lady was restored, had it not been for a most beautiful and touching
expression of filial affection on the part of her youthful son. Clad
in a tight suit of corduroy, spangled with brass buttons of a very
considerable size, he at first stood at the door astounded and
uncertain; but by degrees, the impression that his mother must have
suffered some personal damage pervaded his partially developed mind, and
considering Mr. Pickwick as the aggressor, he set up an appalling
and semi-earthly kind of howling, and butting forward with his head,
commenced assailing that immortal gentleman about the back and legs,
with such blows and pinches as the strength of his arm, and the violence
of his excitement, allowed.

'Take this little villain away,' said the agonised Mr. Pickwick, 'he's
mad.'

'What is the matter?' said the three tongue-tied Pickwickians.

'I don't know,' replied Mr. Pickwick pettishly. 'Take away the boy.'
(Here Mr. Winkle carried the interesting boy, screaming and struggling,
to the farther end of the apartment.) 'Now help me, lead this woman
downstairs.'

'Oh, I am better now,' said Mrs. Bardell faintly.

'Let me lead you downstairs,' said the ever-gallant Mr. Tupman.

'Thank you, sir--thank you;' exclaimed Mrs. Bardell hysterically. And
downstairs she was led accordingly, accompanied by her affectionate son.

'I cannot conceive,' said Mr. Pickwick when his friend returned--'I
cannot conceive what has been the matter with that woman. I had merely
announced to her my intention of keeping a man-servant, when she
fell into the extraordinary paroxysm in which you found her. Very
extraordinary thing.'

'Very,' said his three friends.

'Placed me in such an extremely awkward situation,' continued Mr.
Pickwick.

'Very,' was the reply of his followers, as they coughed slightly, and
looked dubiously at each other.

This behaviour was not lost upon Mr. Pickwick. He remarked their
incredulity. They evidently suspected him.

'There is a man in the passage now,' said Mr. Tupman.

'It's the man I spoke to you about,' said Mr. Pickwick; 'I sent for
him to the Borough this morning. Have the goodness to call him up,
Snodgrass.'

Mr. Snodgrass did as he was desired; and Mr. Samuel Weller forthwith
presented himself.

'Oh--you remember me, I suppose?' said Mr. Pickwick.

'I should think so,' replied Sam, with a patronising wink. 'Queer start
that 'ere, but he was one too many for you, warn't he? Up to snuff and a
pinch or two over--eh?'

'Never mind that matter now,' said Mr. Pickwick hastily; 'I want to
speak to you about something else. Sit down.'

'Thank'ee, sir,' said Sam. And down he sat without further bidding,
having previously deposited his old white hat on the landing outside
the door. ''Tain't a wery good 'un to look at,' said Sam, 'but it's an
astonishin' 'un to wear; and afore the brim went, it was a wery handsome
tile. Hows'ever it's lighter without it, that's one thing, and every
hole lets in some air, that's another--wentilation gossamer I calls it.'
On the delivery of this sentiment, Mr. Weller smiled agreeably upon the
assembled Pickwickians.

'Now with regard to the matter on which I, with the concurrence of these
gentlemen, sent for you,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'That's the pint, sir,' interposed Sam; 'out vith it, as the father said
to his child, when he swallowed a farden.'

'We want to know, in the first place,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'whether you
have any reason to be discontented with your present situation.'

'Afore I answers that 'ere question, gen'l'm'n,' replied Mr. Weller,
'I should like to know, in the first place, whether you're a-goin' to
purwide me with a better?'

A sunbeam of placid benevolence played on Mr. Pickwick's features as he
said, 'I have half made up my mind to engage you myself.'

'Have you, though?' said Sam.

Mr. Pickwick nodded in the affirmative.

'Wages?' inquired Sam.

'Twelve pounds a year,' replied Mr. Pickwick.

'Clothes?'

'Two suits.'

'Work?'

'To attend upon me; and travel about with me and these gentlemen here.'
'Take the bill down,' said Sam emphatically. 'I'm let to a single
gentleman, and the terms is agreed upon.'

'You accept the situation?' inquired Mr. Pickwick. 'Cert'nly,' replied
Sam. 'If the clothes fits me half as well as the place, they'll do.'

'You can get a character of course?' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Ask the landlady o' the White Hart about that, Sir,' replied Sam.

'Can you come this evening?'

'I'll get into the clothes this minute, if they're here,' said Sam, with
great alacrity.

'Call at eight this evening,' said Mr. Pickwick; 'and if the inquiries
are satisfactory, they shall be provided.'

With the single exception of one amiable indiscretion, in which an
assistant housemaid had equally participated, the history of Mr.
Weller's conduct was so very blameless, that Mr. Pickwick felt fully
justified in closing the engagement that very evening. With the
promptness and energy which characterised not only the public
proceedings, but all the private actions of this extraordinary man, he
at once led his new attendant to one of those convenient emporiums
where gentlemen's new and second-hand clothes are provided, and the
troublesome and inconvenient formality of measurement dispensed with;
and before night had closed in, Mr. Weller was furnished with a grey
coat with the P. C. button, a black hat with a cockade to it, a pink
striped waistcoat, light breeches and gaiters, and a variety of other
necessaries, too numerous to recapitulate.

'Well,' said that suddenly-transformed individual, as he took his seat
on the outside of the Eatanswill coach next morning; 'I wonder whether
I'm meant to be a footman, or a groom, or a gamekeeper, or a seedsman.
I looks like a sort of compo of every one on 'em. Never mind; there's
a change of air, plenty to see, and little to do; and all this suits my
complaint uncommon; so long life to the Pickvicks, says I!'



CHAPTER XIII. SOME ACCOUNT OF EATANSWILL; OF THE STATE OF PARTIES
THEREIN; AND OF THE ELECTION OF A MEMBER TO SERVE IN PARLIAMENT FOR THAT
ANCIENT, LOYAL, AND PATRIOTIC BOROUGH


We will frankly acknowledge that, up to the period of our being first
immersed in the voluminous papers of the Pickwick Club, we had never
heard of Eatanswill; we will with equal candour admit that we have in
vain searched for proof of the actual existence of such a place at the
present day. Knowing the deep reliance to be placed on every note
and statement of Mr. Pickwick's, and not presuming to set up our
recollection against the recorded declarations of that great man, we
have consulted every authority, bearing upon the subject, to which we
could possibly refer. We have traced every name in schedules A and B,
without meeting with that of Eatanswill; we have minutely examined every
corner of the pocket county maps issued for the benefit of society
by our distinguished publishers, and the same result has attended our
investigation. We are therefore led to believe that Mr. Pickwick, with
that anxious desire to abstain from giving offence to any, and with
those delicate feelings for which all who knew him well know he was so
eminently remarkable, purposely substituted a fictitious designation,
for the real name of the place in which his observations were made. We
are confirmed in this belief by a little circumstance, apparently slight
and trivial in itself, but when considered in this point of view, not
undeserving of notice. In Mr. Pickwick's note-book, we can just trace an
entry of the fact, that the places of himself and followers were booked
by the Norwich coach; but this entry was afterwards lined through, as if
for the purpose of concealing even the direction in which the borough is
situated. We will not, therefore, hazard a guess upon the subject, but
will at once proceed with this history, content with the materials which
its characters have provided for us.

It appears, then, that the Eatanswill people, like the people of many
other small towns, considered themselves of the utmost and most mighty
importance, and that every man in Eatanswill, conscious of the weight
that attached to his example, felt himself bound to unite, heart and
soul, with one of the two great parties that divided the town--the Blues
and the Buffs. Now the Blues lost no opportunity of opposing the
Buffs, and the Buffs lost no opportunity of opposing the Blues; and
the consequence was, that whenever the Buffs and Blues met together
at public meeting, town-hall, fair, or market, disputes and high words
arose between them. With these dissensions it is almost superfluous
to say that everything in Eatanswill was made a party question. If the
Buffs proposed to new skylight the market-place, the Blues got up
public meetings, and denounced the proceeding; if the Blues proposed the
erection of an additional pump in the High Street, the Buffs rose as
one man and stood aghast at the enormity. There were Blue shops and Buff
shops, Blue inns and Buff inns--there was a Blue aisle and a Buff aisle
in the very church itself.

Of course it was essentially and indispensably necessary that each of
these powerful parties should have its chosen organ and representative:
and, accordingly, there were two newspapers in the town--the Eatanswill
GAZETTE and the Eatanswill INDEPENDENT; the former advocating Blue
principles, and the latter conducted on grounds decidedly Buff.
Fine newspapers they were. Such leading articles, and such spirited
attacks!--'Our worthless contemporary, the GAZETTE'--'That disgraceful
and dastardly journal, the INDEPENDENT'--'That false and scurrilous
print, the INDEPENDENT'--'That vile and slanderous calumniator, the
GAZETTE;' these, and other spirit-stirring denunciations, were strewn
plentifully over the columns of each, in every number, and excited
feelings of the most intense delight and indignation in the bosoms of
the townspeople.

Mr. Pickwick, with his usual foresight and sagacity, had chosen a
peculiarly desirable moment for his visit to the borough. Never was such
a contest known. The Honourable Samuel Slumkey, of Slumkey Hall, was
the Blue candidate; and Horatio Fizkin, Esq., of Fizkin Lodge, near
Eatanswill, had been prevailed upon by his friends to stand forward on
the Buff interest. The GAZETTE warned the electors of Eatanswill that
the eyes not only of England, but of the whole civilised world, were
upon them; and the INDEPENDENT imperatively demanded to know, whether
the constituency of Eatanswill were the grand fellows they had always
taken them for, or base and servile tools, undeserving alike of the name
of Englishmen and the blessings of freedom. Never had such a commotion
agitated the town before.

It was late in the evening when Mr. Pickwick and his companions,
assisted by Sam, dismounted from the roof of the Eatanswill coach. Large
blue silk flags were flying from the windows of the Town Arms Inn, and
bills were posted in every sash, intimating, in gigantic letters, that
the Honourable Samuel Slumkey's committee sat there daily. A crowd
of idlers were assembled in the road, looking at a hoarse man in the
balcony, who was apparently talking himself very red in the face in
Mr. Slumkey's behalf; but the force and point of whose arguments were
somewhat impaired by the perpetual beating of four large drums which Mr.
Fizkin's committee had stationed at the street corner. There was a busy
little man beside him, though, who took off his hat at intervals
and motioned to the people to cheer, which they regularly did, most
enthusiastically; and as the red-faced gentleman went on talking till he
was redder in the face than ever, it seemed to answer his purpose quite
as well as if anybody had heard him.

The Pickwickians had no sooner dismounted than they were surrounded by
a branch mob of the honest and independent, who forthwith set up three
deafening cheers, which being responded to by the main body (for it's
not at all necessary for a crowd to know what they are cheering about),
swelled into a tremendous roar of triumph, which stopped even the
red-faced man in the balcony.

'Hurrah!' shouted the mob, in conclusion.

'One cheer more,' screamed the little fugleman in the balcony, and out
shouted the mob again, as if lungs were cast-iron, with steel works.

'Slumkey for ever!' roared the honest and independent.

'Slumkey for ever!' echoed Mr. Pickwick, taking off his hat. 'No
Fizkin!' roared the crowd.

'Certainly not!' shouted Mr. Pickwick. 'Hurrah!' And then there was
another roaring, like that of a whole menagerie when the elephant has
rung the bell for the cold meat.

'Who is Slumkey?'whispered Mr. Tupman.

'I don't know,' replied Mr. Pickwick, in the same tone. 'Hush. Don't ask
any questions. It's always best on these occasions to do what the mob
do.'

'But suppose there are two mobs?' suggested Mr. Snodgrass.

'Shout with the largest,' replied Mr. Pickwick.

Volumes could not have said more.

They entered the house, the crowd opening right and left to let them
pass, and cheering vociferously. The first object of consideration was
to secure quarters for the night.

'Can we have beds here?' inquired Mr. Pickwick, summoning the waiter.

'Don't know, Sir,' replied the man; 'afraid we're full, sir--I'll
inquire, Sir.' Away he went for that purpose, and presently returned, to
ask whether the gentleman were 'Blue.'

As neither Mr. Pickwick nor his companions took any vital interest in
the cause of either candidate, the question was rather a difficult one
to answer. In this dilemma Mr. Pickwick bethought himself of his new
friend, Mr. Perker.

'Do you know a gentleman of the name of Perker?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.

'Certainly, Sir; Honourable Mr. Samuel Slumkey's agent.'

'He is Blue, I think?'

'Oh, yes, Sir.'

'Then WE are Blue,' said Mr. Pickwick; but observing that the man looked
rather doubtful at this accommodating announcement, he gave him his
card, and desired him to present it to Mr. Perker forthwith, if he
should happen to be in the house. The waiter retired; and reappearing
almost immediately with a request that Mr. Pickwick would follow him,
led the way to a large room on the first floor, where, seated at a long
table covered with books and papers, was Mr. Perker.

'Ah--ah, my dear Sir,' said the little man, advancing to meet him; 'very
happy to see you, my dear Sir, very. Pray sit down. So you have
carried your intention into effect. You have come down here to see an
election--eh?' Mr. Pickwick replied in the affirmative.

'Spirited contest, my dear sir,' said the little man.

'I'm delighted to hear it,' said Mr. Pickwick, rubbing his hands. 'I
like to see sturdy patriotism, on whatever side it is called forth--and
so it's a spirited contest?'

'Oh, yes,' said the little man, 'very much so indeed. We have opened all
the public-houses in the place, and left our adversary nothing but the
beer-shops-masterly stroke of policy that, my dear Sir, eh?' The little
man smiled complacently, and took a large pinch of snuff.

'And what are the probabilities as to the result of the contest?'
inquired Mr. Pickwick.

'Why, doubtful, my dear Sir; rather doubtful as yet,' replied the little
man. 'Fizkin's people have got three-and-thirty voters in the lock-up
coach-house at the White Hart.'

'In the coach-house!' said Mr. Pickwick, considerably astonished by this
second stroke of policy.

'They keep 'em locked up there till they want 'em,' resumed the little
man. 'The effect of that is, you see, to prevent our getting at them;
and even if we could, it would be of no use, for they keep them very
drunk on purpose. Smart fellow Fizkin's agent--very smart fellow
indeed.'

Mr. Pickwick stared, but said nothing.

'We are pretty confident, though,' said Mr. Perker, sinking his
voice almost to a whisper. 'We had a little tea-party here, last
night--five-and-forty women, my dear sir--and gave every one of 'em a
green parasol when she went away.'

'A parasol!' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Fact, my dear Sir, fact. Five-and-forty green parasols, at seven and
sixpence a-piece. All women like finery--extraordinary the effect
of those parasols. Secured all their husbands, and half their
brothers--beats stockings, and flannel, and all that sort of thing
hollow. My idea, my dear Sir, entirely. Hail, rain, or sunshine, you
can't walk half a dozen yards up the street, without encountering half a
dozen green parasols.'

Here the little man indulged in a convulsion of mirth, which was only
checked by the entrance of a third party.

This was a tall, thin man, with a sandy-coloured head inclined to
baldness, and a face in which solemn importance was blended with a look
of unfathomable profundity. He was dressed in a long brown surtout, with
a black cloth waistcoat, and drab trousers. A double eyeglass dangled
at his waistcoat; and on his head he wore a very low-crowned hat with
a broad brim. The new-comer was introduced to Mr. Pickwick as Mr. Pott,
the editor of the Eatanswill GAZETTE. After a few preliminary remarks,
Mr. Pott turned round to Mr. Pickwick, and said with solemnity--

'This contest excites great interest in the metropolis, sir?'

'I believe it does,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'To which I have reason to know,' said Pott, looking towards Mr. Perker
for corroboration--'to which I have reason to know that my article of
last Saturday in some degree contributed.'

'Not the least doubt of it,' said the little man.

'The press is a mighty engine, sir,' said Pott.

Mr. Pickwick yielded his fullest assent to the proposition.

'But I trust, sir,' said Pott, 'that I have never abused the enormous
power I wield. I trust, sir, that I have never pointed the noble
instrument which is placed in my hands, against the sacred bosom of
private life, or the tender breast of individual reputation; I trust,
sir, that I have devoted my energies to--to endeavours--humble they may
be, humble I know they are--to instil those principles of--which--are--'

Here the editor of the Eatanswill GAZETTE, appearing to ramble, Mr.
Pickwick came to his relief, and said--

'Certainly.'

'And what, Sir,' said Pott--'what, Sir, let me ask you as an impartial
man, is the state of the public mind in London, with reference to my
contest with the INDEPENDENT?'

'Greatly excited, no doubt,' interposed Mr. Perker, with a look of
slyness which was very likely accidental.

'The contest,' said Pott, 'shall be prolonged so long as I have health
and strength, and that portion of talent with which I am gifted. From
that contest, Sir, although it may unsettle men's minds and excite their
feelings, and render them incapable for the discharge of the everyday
duties of ordinary life; from that contest, sir, I will never shrink,
till I have set my heel upon the Eatanswill INDEPENDENT. I wish the
people of London, and the people of this country to know, sir, that they
may rely upon me--that I will not desert them, that I am resolved to
stand by them, Sir, to the last.' 'Your conduct is most noble, Sir,'
said Mr. Pickwick; and he grasped the hand of the magnanimous Pott. 'You
are, sir, I perceive, a man of sense and talent,' said Mr. Pott, almost
breathless with the vehemence of his patriotic declaration. 'I am most
happy, sir, to make the acquaintance of such a man.'

'And I,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'feel deeply honoured by this expression of
your opinion. Allow me, sir, to introduce you to my fellow-travellers,
the other corresponding members of the club I am proud to have founded.'

'I shall be delighted,' said Mr. Pott.

Mr. Pickwick withdrew, and returning with his friends, presented them in
due form to the editor of the Eatanswill GAZETTE.

'Now, my dear Pott,' said little Mr. Perker, 'the question is, what are
we to do with our friends here?'

'We can stop in this house, I suppose,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Not a spare bed in the house, my dear sir--not a single bed.'

'Extremely awkward,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Very,' said his fellow-voyagers.

'I have an idea upon this subject,' said Mr. Pott, 'which I think may be
very successfully adopted. They have two beds at the Peacock, and I
can boldly say, on behalf of Mrs. Pott, that she will be delighted to
accommodate Mr. Pickwick and any one of his friends, if the other two
gentlemen and their servant do not object to shifting, as they best can,
at the Peacock.'

After repeated pressings on the part of Mr. Pott, and repeated
protestations on that of Mr. Pickwick that he could not think of
incommoding or troubling his amiable wife, it was decided that it was
the only feasible arrangement that could be made. So it WAS made; and
after dinner together at the Town Arms, the friends separated, Mr.
Tupman and Mr. Snodgrass repairing to the Peacock, and Mr. Pickwick
and Mr. Winkle proceeding to the mansion of Mr. Pott; it having been
previously arranged that they should all reassemble at the Town Arms in
the morning, and accompany the Honourable Samuel Slumkey's procession to
the place of nomination.

Mr. Pott's domestic circle was limited to himself and his wife. All men
whom mighty genius has raised to a proud eminence in the world, have
usually some little weakness which appears the more conspicuous from
the contrast it presents to their general character. If Mr. Pott had
a weakness, it was, perhaps, that he was rather too submissive to the
somewhat contemptuous control and sway of his wife. We do not feel
justified in laying any particular stress upon the fact, because on the
present occasion all Mrs. Pott's most winning ways were brought into
requisition to receive the two gentlemen.

'My dear,' said Mr. Pott, 'Mr. Pickwick--Mr. Pickwick of London.'

Mrs. Pott received Mr. Pickwick's paternal grasp of the hand with
enchanting sweetness; and Mr. Winkle, who had not been announced at all,
sidled and bowed, unnoticed, in an obscure corner.

'P. my dear'--said Mrs. Pott.

'My life,' said Mr. Pott.

'Pray introduce the other gentleman.'

'I beg a thousand pardons,' said Mr. Pott. 'Permit me, Mrs. Pott, Mr.--'

'Winkle,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Winkle,' echoed Mr. Pott; and the ceremony of introduction was
complete.

'We owe you many apologies, ma'am,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'for disturbing
your domestic arrangements at so short a notice.'

'I beg you won't mention it, sir,' replied the feminine Pott, with
vivacity. 'It is a high treat to me, I assure you, to see any new faces;
living as I do, from day to day, and week to week, in this dull place,
and seeing nobody.'

'Nobody, my dear!' exclaimed Mr. Pott archly.

'Nobody but you,' retorted Mrs. Pott, with asperity.

'You see, Mr. Pickwick,' said the host in explanation of his wife's
lament, 'that we are in some measure cut off from many enjoyments and
pleasures of which we might otherwise partake. My public station, as
editor of the Eatanswill GAZETTE, the position which that paper holds in
the country, my constant immersion in the vortex of politics--'

'P. my dear--' interposed Mrs. Pott.

'My life--' said the editor.

'I wish, my dear, you would endeavour to find some topic of conversation
in which these gentlemen might take some rational interest.'

'But, my love,' said Mr. Pott, with great humility, 'Mr. Pickwick does
take an interest in it.'

'It's well for him if he can,' said Mrs. Pott emphatically; 'I am
wearied out of my life with your politics, and quarrels with the
INDEPENDENT, and nonsense. I am quite astonished, P., at your making
such an exhibition of your absurdity.'

'But, my dear--' said Mr. Pott.

'Oh, nonsense, don't talk to me,' said Mrs. Pott. 'Do you play ecarte,
Sir?'

'I shall be very happy to learn under your tuition,' replied Mr. Winkle.

'Well, then, draw that little table into this window, and let me get out
of hearing of those prosy politics.'

'Jane,' said Mr. Pott, to the servant who brought in candles, 'go down
into the office, and bring me up the file of the GAZETTE for eighteen
hundred and twenty-six. I'll read you,' added the editor, turning to Mr.
Pickwick--'I'll just read you a few of the leaders I wrote at that time
upon the Buff job of appointing a new tollman to the turnpike here; I
rather think they'll amuse you.'

'I should like to hear them very much indeed,' said Mr. Pickwick.

Up came the file, and down sat the editor, with Mr. Pickwick at his
side.

We have in vain pored over the leaves of Mr. Pickwick's note-book,
in the hope of meeting with a general summary of these beautiful
compositions. We have every reason to believe that he was perfectly
enraptured with the vigour and freshness of the style; indeed Mr. Winkle
has recorded the fact that his eyes were closed, as if with excess of
pleasure, during the whole time of their perusal.

The announcement of supper put a stop both to the game of ecarte, and
the recapitulation of the beauties of the Eatanswill GAZETTE. Mrs. Pott
was in the highest spirits and the most agreeable humour. Mr. Winkle had
already made considerable progress in her good opinion, and she did
not hesitate to inform him, confidentially, that Mr. Pickwick was 'a
delightful old dear.' These terms convey a familiarity of expression,
in which few of those who were intimately acquainted with that
colossal-minded man, would have presumed to indulge. We have preserved
them, nevertheless, as affording at once a touching and a convincing
proof of the estimation in which he was held by every class of society,
and the case with which he made his way to their hearts and feelings.

It was a late hour of the night--long after Mr. Tupman and Mr. Snodgrass
had fallen asleep in the inmost recesses of the Peacock--when the
two friends retired to rest. Slumber soon fell upon the senses of Mr.
Winkle, but his feelings had been excited, and his admiration roused;
and for many hours after sleep had rendered him insensible to earthly
objects, the face and figure of the agreeable Mrs. Pott presented
themselves again and again to his wandering imagination.

The noise and bustle which ushered in the morning were sufficient to
dispel from the mind of the most romantic visionary in existence,
any associations but those which were immediately connected with the
rapidly-approaching election. The beating of drums, the blowing of horns
and trumpets, the shouting of men, and tramping of horses, echoed and
re--echoed through the streets from the earliest dawn of day; and an
occasional fight between the light skirmishers of either party at once
enlivened the preparations, and agreeably diversified their character.
'Well, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick, as his valet appeared at his bedroom
door, just as he was concluding his toilet; 'all alive to-day, I
suppose?'

'Reg'lar game, sir,' replied Mr. Weller; 'our people's a-collecting down
at the Town Arms, and they're a-hollering themselves hoarse already.'

'Ah,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'do they seem devoted to their party, Sam?'

'Never see such dewotion in my life, Sir.'

'Energetic, eh?' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Uncommon,' replied Sam; 'I never see men eat and drink so much afore. I
wonder they ain't afeer'd o' bustin'.'

'That's the mistaken kindness of the gentry here,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Wery likely,' replied Sam briefly.

'Fine, fresh, hearty fellows they seem,' said Mr. Pickwick, glancing
from the window.

'Wery fresh,' replied Sam; 'me and the two waiters at the Peacock has
been a-pumpin' over the independent woters as supped there last night.'

'Pumping over independent voters!' exclaimed Mr. Pickwick.

'Yes,' said his attendant, 'every man slept vere he fell down; we
dragged 'em out, one by one, this mornin', and put 'em under the pump,
and they're in reg'lar fine order now. Shillin' a head the committee
paid for that 'ere job.'

'Can such things be!' exclaimed the astonished Mr. Pickwick.

'Lord bless your heart, sir,' said Sam, 'why where was you half
baptised?--that's nothin', that ain't.'

'Nothing?'said Mr. Pickwick. 'Nothin' at all, Sir,' replied his
attendant. 'The night afore the last day o' the last election here,
the opposite party bribed the barmaid at the Town Arms, to hocus the
brandy-and-water of fourteen unpolled electors as was a-stoppin' in the
house.'

'What do you mean by "hocussing" brandy-and-water?' inquired Mr.
Pickwick.

'Puttin' laud'num in it,' replied Sam. 'Blessed if she didn't send 'em
all to sleep till twelve hours arter the election was over. They took
one man up to the booth, in a truck, fast asleep, by way of experiment,
but it was no go--they wouldn't poll him; so they brought him back, and
put him to bed again.' 'Strange practices, these,' said Mr. Pickwick;
half speaking to himself and half addressing Sam.

'Not half so strange as a miraculous circumstance as happened to my own
father, at an election time, in this wery place, Sir,' replied Sam.

'What was that?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.

'Why, he drove a coach down here once,' said Sam; ''lection time came
on, and he was engaged by vun party to bring down woters from London.
Night afore he was going to drive up, committee on t' other side sends
for him quietly, and away he goes vith the messenger, who shows him
in;--large room--lots of gen'l'm'n--heaps of papers, pens and ink, and
all that 'ere. "Ah, Mr. Weller," says the gen'l'm'n in the chair, "glad
to see you, sir; how are you?"--"Wery well, thank 'ee, Sir," says
my father; "I hope you're pretty middlin," says he.--"Pretty well,
thank'ee, Sir," says the gen'l'm'n; "sit down, Mr. Weller--pray sit
down, sir." So my father sits down, and he and the gen'l'm'n looks wery
hard at each other. "You don't remember me?" said the gen'l'm'n.--"Can't
say I do," says my father.--"Oh, I know you," says the gen'l'm'n:
"know'd you when you was a boy," says he.--"Well, I don't remember you,"
says my father.--"That's wery odd," says the gen'l'm'n."--"Wery,"
says my father.--"You must have a bad mem'ry, Mr. Weller," says the
gen'l'm'n.--"Well, it is a wery bad 'un," says my father.--"I thought
so," says the gen'l'm'n. So then they pours him out a glass of wine, and
gammons him about his driving, and gets him into a reg'lar good humour,
and at last shoves a twenty-pound note into his hand. "It's a wery bad
road between this and London," says the gen'l'm'n.--"Here and there
it is a heavy road," says my father.--" 'Specially near the canal,
I think," says the gen'l'm'n.--"Nasty bit that 'ere," says my
father.--"Well, Mr. Weller," says the gen'l'm'n, "you're a wery good
whip, and can do what you like with your horses, we know. We're all wery
fond o' you, Mr. Weller, so in case you should have an accident when
you're bringing these here woters down, and should tip 'em over into
the canal vithout hurtin' of 'em, this is for yourself," says
he.--"Gen'l'm'n, you're wery kind," says my father, "and I'll drink your
health in another glass of wine," says he; vich he did, and then
buttons up the money, and bows himself out. You wouldn't believe, sir,'
continued Sam, with a look of inexpressible impudence at his master,
'that on the wery day as he came down with them woters, his coach WAS
upset on that 'ere wery spot, and ev'ry man on 'em was turned into the
canal.'

'And got out again?' inquired Mr. Pickwick hastily.

'Why,' replied Sam very slowly, 'I rather think one old gen'l'm'n was
missin'; I know his hat was found, but I ain't quite certain whether
his head was in it or not. But what I look at is the hex-traordinary and
wonderful coincidence, that arter what that gen'l'm'n said, my father's
coach should be upset in that wery place, and on that wery day!'

'it is, no doubt, a very extraordinary circumstance indeed,' said Mr.
Pickwick. 'But brush my hat, Sam, for I hear Mr. Winkle calling me to
breakfast.'

With these words Mr. Pickwick descended to the parlour, where he found
breakfast laid, and the family already assembled. The meal was hastily
despatched; each of the gentlemen's hats was decorated with an enormous
blue favour, made up by the fair hands of Mrs. Pott herself; and as
Mr. Winkle had undertaken to escort that lady to a house-top, in the
immediate vicinity of the hustings, Mr. Pickwick and Mr. Pott repaired
alone to the Town Arms, from the back window of which, one of Mr.
Slumkey's committee was addressing six small boys and one girl, whom he
dignified, at every second sentence, with the imposing title of 'Men of
Eatanswill,' whereat the six small boys aforesaid cheered prodigiously.

The stable-yard exhibited unequivocal symptoms of the glory and strength
of the Eatanswill Blues. There was a regular army of blue flags, some
with one handle, and some with two, exhibiting appropriate devices, in
golden characters four feet high, and stout in proportion. There was a
grand band of trumpets, bassoons, and drums, marshalled four abreast,
and earning their money, if ever men did, especially the drum-beaters,
who were very muscular. There were bodies of constables with blue
staves, twenty committee-men with blue scarfs, and a mob of voters with
blue cockades. There were electors on horseback and electors afoot.
There was an open carriage-and-four, for the Honourable Samuel Slumkey;
and there were four carriage-and-pair, for his friends and supporters;
and the flags were rustling, and the band was playing, and the
constables were swearing, and the twenty committee-men were squabbling,
and the mob were shouting, and the horses were backing, and the
post-boys perspiring; and everybody, and everything, then and there
assembled, was for the special use, behoof, honour, and renown, of the
Honourable Samuel Slumkey, of Slumkey Hall, one of the candidates for
the representation of the borough of Eatanswill, in the Commons House
of Parliament of the United Kingdom. Loud and long were the cheers, and
mighty was the rustling of one of the blue flags, with 'Liberty of the
Press' inscribed thereon, when the sandy head of Mr. Pott was discerned
in one of the windows, by the mob beneath; and tremendous was the
enthusiasm when the Honourable Samuel Slumkey himself, in top-boots, and
a blue neckerchief, advanced and seized the hand of the said Pott, and
melodramatically testified by gestures to the crowd, his ineffaceable
obligations to the Eatanswill GAZETTE.

'Is everything ready?' said the Honourable Samuel Slumkey to Mr. Perker.

'Everything, my dear Sir,' was the little man's reply.

'Nothing has been omitted, I hope?' said the Honourable Samuel Slumkey.

'Nothing has been left undone, my dear sir--nothing whatever. There are
twenty washed men at the street door for you to shake hands with; and
six children in arms that you're to pat on the head, and inquire the age
of; be particular about the children, my dear sir--it has always a great
effect, that sort of thing.'

'I'll take care,' said the Honourable Samuel Slumkey.

'And, perhaps, my dear Sir,' said the cautious little man, 'perhaps
if you could--I don't mean to say it's indispensable--but if you could
manage to kiss one of 'em, it would produce a very great impression on
the crowd.'

'Wouldn't it have as good an effect if the proposer or seconder did
that?' said the Honourable Samuel Slumkey.

'Why, I am afraid it wouldn't,' replied the agent; 'if it were done by
yourself, my dear Sir, I think it would make you very popular.'

'Very well,' said the Honourable Samuel Slumkey, with a resigned air,
'then it must be done. That's all.'

'Arrange the procession,' cried the twenty committee-men.

Amidst the cheers of the assembled throng, the band, and the constables,
and the committee-men, and the voters, and the horsemen, and the
carriages, took their places--each of the two-horse vehicles being
closely packed with as many gentlemen as could manage to stand upright
in it; and that assigned to Mr. Perker, containing Mr. Pickwick, Mr.
Tupman, Mr. Snodgrass, and about half a dozen of the committee besides.

There was a moment of awful suspense as the procession waited for the
Honourable Samuel Slumkey to step into his carriage. Suddenly the crowd
set up a great cheering.

'He has come out,' said little Mr. Perker, greatly excited; the more so
as their position did not enable them to see what was going forward.

Another cheer, much louder.

'He has shaken hands with the men,' cried the little agent.

Another cheer, far more vehement.

'He has patted the babies on the head,' said Mr. Perker, trembling with
anxiety.

A roar of applause that rent the air.

'He has kissed one of 'em!' exclaimed the delighted little man.

A second roar.

'He has kissed another,' gasped the excited manager.

A third roar.

'He's kissing 'em all!' screamed the enthusiastic little gentleman, and
hailed by the deafening shouts of the multitude, the procession moved
on.

How or by what means it became mixed up with the other procession, and
how it was ever extricated from the confusion consequent thereupon, is
more than we can undertake to describe, inasmuch as Mr. Pickwick's
hat was knocked over his eyes, nose, and mouth, by one poke of a Buff
flag-staff, very early in the proceedings. He describes himself as being
surrounded on every side, when he could catch a glimpse of the scene,
by angry and ferocious countenances, by a vast cloud of dust, and by a
dense crowd of combatants. He represents himself as being forced from
the carriage by some unseen power, and being personally engaged in a
pugilistic encounter; but with whom, or how, or why, he is wholly
unable to state. He then felt himself forced up some wooden steps by the
persons from behind; and on removing his hat, found himself surrounded
by his friends, in the very front of the left hand side of the hustings.
The right was reserved for the Buff party, and the centre for the mayor
and his officers; one of whom--the fat crier of Eatanswill--was ringing
an enormous bell, by way of commanding silence, while Mr. Horatio
Fizkin, and the Honourable Samuel Slumkey, with their hands upon their
hearts, were bowing with the utmost affability to the troubled sea of
heads that inundated the open space in front; and from whence arose a
storm of groans, and shouts, and yells, and hootings, that would have
done honour to an earthquake.

'There's Winkle,' said Mr. Tupman, pulling his friend by the sleeve.

'Where!' said Mr. Pickwick, putting on his spectacles, which he had
fortunately kept in his pocket hitherto. 'There,' said Mr. Tupman, 'on
the top of that house.' And there, sure enough, in the leaden gutter
of a tiled roof, were Mr. Winkle and Mrs. Pott, comfortably seated in a
couple of chairs, waving their handkerchiefs in token of recognition--a
compliment which Mr. Pickwick returned by kissing his hand to the lady.

The proceedings had not yet commenced; and as an inactive crowd
is generally disposed to be jocose, this very innocent action was
sufficient to awaken their facetiousness.

'Oh, you wicked old rascal,' cried one voice, 'looking arter the girls,
are you?'

'Oh, you wenerable sinner,' cried another.

'Putting on his spectacles to look at a married 'ooman!' said a third.

'I see him a-winkin' at her, with his wicked old eye,' shouted a fourth.

'Look arter your wife, Pott,' bellowed a fifth--and then there was a
roar of laughter.

As these taunts were accompanied with invidious comparisons between Mr.
Pickwick and an aged ram, and several witticisms of the like nature; and
as they moreover rather tended to convey reflections upon the honour
of an innocent lady, Mr. Pickwick's indignation was excessive; but as
silence was proclaimed at the moment, he contented himself by scorching
the mob with a look of pity for their misguided minds, at which they
laughed more boisterously than ever.

'Silence!' roared the mayor's attendants.

'Whiffin, proclaim silence,' said the mayor, with an air of pomp
befitting his lofty station. In obedience to this command the crier
performed another concerto on the bell, whereupon a gentleman in the
crowd called out 'Muffins'; which occasioned another laugh.

'Gentlemen,' said the mayor, at as loud a pitch as he could possibly
force his voice to--'gentlemen. Brother electors of the borough of
Eatanswill. We are met here to-day for the purpose of choosing a
representative in the room of our late--'

Here the mayor was interrupted by a voice in the crowd.

'Suc-cess to the mayor!' cried the voice, 'and may he never desert the
nail and sarspan business, as he got his money by.'

This allusion to the professional pursuits of the orator was received
with a storm of delight, which, with a bell-accompaniment, rendered the
remainder of his speech inaudible, with the exception of the concluding
sentence, in which he thanked the meeting for the patient attention
with which they heard him throughout--an expression of gratitude
which elicited another burst of mirth, of about a quarter of an hour's
duration.

Next, a tall, thin gentleman, in a very stiff white neckerchief, after
being repeatedly desired by the crowd to 'send a boy home, to ask
whether he hadn't left his voice under the pillow,' begged to nominate a
fit and proper person to represent them in Parliament. And when he said
it was Horatio Fizkin, Esquire, of Fizkin Lodge, near Eatanswill, the
Fizkinites applauded, and the Slumkeyites groaned, so long, and so
loudly, that both he and the seconder might have sung comic songs in
lieu of speaking, without anybody's being a bit the wiser.

The friends of Horatio Fizkin, Esquire, having had their innings, a
little choleric, pink-faced man stood forward to propose another fit and
proper person to represent the electors of Eatanswill in Parliament; and
very swimmingly the pink-faced gentleman would have got on, if he had
not been rather too choleric to entertain a sufficient perception of
the fun of the crowd. But after a very few sentences of figurative
eloquence, the pink-faced gentleman got from denouncing those who
interrupted him in the mob, to exchanging defiances with the gentlemen
on the hustings; whereupon arose an uproar which reduced him to the
necessity of expressing his feelings by serious pantomime, which he did,
and then left the stage to his seconder, who delivered a written speech
of half an hour's length, and wouldn't be stopped, because he had sent
it all to the Eatanswill GAZETTE, and the Eatanswill GAZETTE had already
printed it, every word.

Then Horatio Fizkin, Esquire, of Fizkin Lodge, near Eatanswill,
presented himself for the purpose of addressing the electors; which he
no sooner did, than the band employed by the Honourable Samuel Slumkey,
commenced performing with a power to which their strength in the morning
was a trifle; in return for which, the Buff crowd belaboured the heads
and shoulders of the Blue crowd; on which the Blue crowd endeavoured
to dispossess themselves of their very unpleasant neighbours the Buff
crowd; and a scene of struggling, and pushing, and fighting, succeeded,
to which we can no more do justice than the mayor could, although he
issued imperative orders to twelve constables to seize the ringleaders,
who might amount in number to two hundred and fifty, or thereabouts. At
all these encounters, Horatio Fizkin, Esquire, of Fizkin Lodge, and
his friends, waxed fierce and furious; until at last Horatio Fizkin,
Esquire, of Fizkin Lodge, begged to ask his opponent, the Honourable
Samuel Slumkey, of Slumkey Hall, whether that band played by his
consent; which question the Honourable Samuel Slumkey declining to
answer, Horatio Fizkin, Esquire, of Fizkin Lodge, shook his fist in
the countenance of the Honourable Samuel Slumkey, of Slumkey Hall; upon
which the Honourable Samuel Slumkey, his blood being up, defied Horatio
Fizkin, Esquire, to mortal combat. At this violation of all known rules
and precedents of order, the mayor commanded another fantasia on the
bell, and declared that he would bring before himself, both Horatio
Fizkin, Esquire, of Fizkin Lodge, and the Honourable Samuel Slumkey, of
Slumkey Hall, and bind them over to keep the peace. Upon this terrific
denunciation, the supporters of the two candidates interfered, and after
the friends of each party had quarrelled in pairs, for three-quarters
of an hour, Horatio Fizkin, Esquire, touched his hat to the Honourable
Samuel Slumkey; the Honourable Samuel Slumkey touched his to Horatio
Fizkin, Esquire; the band was stopped; the crowd were partially quieted;
and Horatio Fizkin, Esquire, was permitted to proceed.

The speeches of the two candidates, though differing in every other
respect, afforded a beautiful tribute to the merit and high worth of
the electors of Eatanswill. Both expressed their opinion that a
more independent, a more enlightened, a more public-spirited, a more
noble-minded, a more disinterested set of men than those who had
promised to vote for him, never existed on earth; each darkly hinted
his suspicions that the electors in the opposite interest had certain
swinish and besotted infirmities which rendered them unfit for the
exercise of the important duties they were called upon to discharge.
Fizkin expressed his readiness to do anything he was wanted: Slumkey,
his determination to do nothing that was asked of him. Both said that
the trade, the manufactures, the commerce, the prosperity of Eatanswill,
would ever be dearer to their hearts than any earthly object; and each
had it in his power to state, with the utmost confidence, that he was
the man who would eventually be returned.

There was a show of hands; the mayor decided in favour of the Honourable
Samuel Slumkey, of Slumkey Hall. Horatio Fizkin, Esquire, of Fizkin
Lodge, demanded a poll, and a poll was fixed accordingly. Then a vote of
thanks was moved to the mayor for his able conduct in the chair; and
the mayor, devoutly wishing that he had had a chair to display his able
conduct in (for he had been standing during the whole proceedings),
returned thanks. The processions reformed, the carriages rolled slowly
through the crowd, and its members screeched and shouted after them as
their feelings or caprice dictated.

During the whole time of the polling, the town was in a perpetual
fever of excitement. Everything was conducted on the most liberal and
delightful scale. Excisable articles were remarkably cheap at all the
public-houses; and spring vans paraded the streets for the accommodation
of voters who were seized with any temporary dizziness in the head--an
epidemic which prevailed among the electors, during the contest, to
a most alarming extent, and under the influence of which they
might frequently be seen lying on the pavements in a state of utter
insensibility. A small body of electors remained unpolled on the very
last day. They were calculating and reflecting persons, who had not
yet been convinced by the arguments of either party, although they had
frequent conferences with each. One hour before the close of the poll,
Mr. Perker solicited the honour of a private interview with these
intelligent, these noble, these patriotic men. It was granted. His
arguments were brief but satisfactory. They went in a body to the poll;
and when they returned, the Honourable Samuel Slumkey, of Slumkey Hall,
was returned also.



CHAPTER XIV. COMPRISING A BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE COMPANY AT THE
PEACOCK ASSEMBLED; AND A TALE TOLD BY A BAGMAN


It is pleasant to turn from contemplating the strife and turmoil of
political existence, to the peaceful repose of private life. Although in
reality no great partisan of either side, Mr. Pickwick was sufficiently
fired with Mr. Pott's enthusiasm, to apply his whole time and attention
to the proceedings, of which the last chapter affords a description
compiled from his own memoranda. Nor while he was thus occupied was Mr.
Winkle idle, his whole time being devoted to pleasant walks and short
country excursions with Mrs. Pott, who never failed, when such an
opportunity presented itself, to seek some relief from the tedious
monotony she so constantly complained of. The two gentlemen being
thus completely domesticated in the editor's house, Mr. Tupman and Mr.
Snodgrass were in a great measure cast upon their own resources. Taking
but little interest in public affairs, they beguiled their time chiefly
with such amusements as the Peacock afforded, which were limited to a
bagatelle-board in the first floor, and a sequestered skittle-ground
in the back yard. In the science and nicety of both these recreations,
which are far more abstruse than ordinary men suppose, they were
gradually initiated by Mr. Weller, who possessed a perfect knowledge of
such pastimes. Thus, notwithstanding that they were in a great measure
deprived of the comfort and advantage of Mr. Pickwick's society, they
were still enabled to beguile the time, and to prevent its hanging
heavily on their hands.

It was in the evening, however, that the Peacock presented attractions
which enabled the two friends to resist even the invitations of the
gifted, though prosy, Pott. It was in the evening that the 'commercial
room' was filled with a social circle, whose characters and manners it
was the delight of Mr. Tupman to observe; whose sayings and doings it
was the habit of Mr. Snodgrass to note down.

Most people know what sort of places commercial rooms usually are. That
of the Peacock differed in no material respect from the generality of
such apartments; that is to say, it was a large, bare-looking room, the
furniture of which had no doubt been better when it was newer, with a
spacious table in the centre, and a variety of smaller dittos in the
corners; an extensive assortment of variously shaped chairs, and an old
Turkey carpet, bearing about the same relative proportion to the size
of the room, as a lady's pocket-handkerchief might to the floor of a
watch-box. The walls were garnished with one or two large maps; and
several weather-beaten rough greatcoats, with complicated capes, dangled
from a long row of pegs in one corner. The mantel-shelf was ornamented
with a wooden inkstand, containing one stump of a pen and half a wafer;
a road-book and directory; a county history minus the cover; and the
mortal remains of a trout in a glass coffin. The atmosphere was redolent
of tobacco-smoke, the fumes of which had communicated a rather dingy hue
to the whole room, and more especially to the dusty red curtains which
shaded the windows. On the sideboard a variety of miscellaneous articles
were huddled together, the most conspicuous of which were some very
cloudy fish-sauce cruets, a couple of driving-boxes, two or three whips,
and as many travelling shawls, a tray of knives and forks, and the
mustard.

Here it was that Mr. Tupman and Mr. Snodgrass were seated on the evening
after the conclusion of the election, with several other temporary
inmates of the house, smoking and drinking.

'Well, gents,' said a stout, hale personage of about forty, with
only one eye--a very bright black eye, which twinkled with a roguish
expression of fun and good-humour, 'our noble selves, gents. I always
propose that toast to the company, and drink Mary to myself. Eh, Mary!'

'Get along with you, you wretch,' said the hand-maiden, obviously not
ill-pleased with the compliment, however.

'Don't go away, Mary,' said the black-eyed man.

'Let me alone, imperence,' said the young lady.

'Never mind,' said the one-eyed man, calling after the girl as she left
the room. 'I'll step out by and by, Mary. Keep your spirits up, dear.'
Here he went through the not very difficult process of winking upon the
company with his solitary eye, to the enthusiastic delight of an elderly
personage with a dirty face and a clay pipe.

'Rum creeters is women,' said the dirty-faced man, after a pause.

'Ah! no mistake about that,' said a very red-faced man, behind a cigar.

After this little bit of philosophy there was another pause.

'There's rummer things than women in this world though, mind you,' said
the man with the black eye, slowly filling a large Dutch pipe, with a
most capacious bowl.

'Are you married?' inquired the dirty-faced man.

'Can't say I am.'

'I thought not.' Here the dirty-faced man fell into ecstasies of mirth
at his own retort, in which he was joined by a man of bland voice and
placid countenance, who always made it a point to agree with everybody.

'Women, after all, gentlemen,' said the enthusiastic Mr. Snodgrass, 'are
the great props and comforts of our existence.'

'So they are,' said the placid gentleman.

'When they're in a good humour,' interposed the dirty-faced man.

'And that's very true,' said the placid one.

'I repudiate that qualification,' said Mr. Snodgrass, whose thoughts
were fast reverting to Emily Wardle. 'I repudiate it with disdain--with
indignation. Show me the man who says anything against women, as women,
and I boldly declare he is not a man.' And Mr. Snodgrass took his cigar
from his mouth, and struck the table violently with his clenched fist.

'That's good sound argument,' said the placid man.

'Containing a position which I deny,' interrupted he of the dirty
countenance.

'And there's certainly a very great deal of truth in what you observe
too, Sir,' said the placid gentleman.

'Your health, Sir,' said the bagman with the lonely eye, bestowing an
approving nod on Mr. Snodgrass.

Mr. Snodgrass acknowledged the compliment.

'I always like to hear a good argument,'continued the bagman, 'a sharp
one, like this: it's very improving; but this little argument about
women brought to my mind a story I have heard an old uncle of mine
tell, the recollection of which, just now, made me say there were rummer
things than women to be met with, sometimes.'

'I should like to hear that same story,' said the red-faced man with the
cigar.

'Should you?' was the only reply of the bagman, who continued to smoke
with great vehemence.

'So should I,' said Mr. Tupman, speaking for the first time. He was
always anxious to increase his stock of experience.

'Should YOU? Well then, I'll tell it. No, I won't. I know you won't
believe it,' said the man with the roguish eye, making that organ look
more roguish than ever. 'If you say it's true, of course I shall,' said
Mr. Tupman.

'Well, upon that understanding I'll tell you,' replied the traveller.
'Did you ever hear of the great commercial house of Bilson & Slum? But
it doesn't matter though, whether you did or not, because they retired
from business long since. It's eighty years ago, since the circumstance
happened to a traveller for that house, but he was a particular friend
of my uncle's; and my uncle told the story to me. It's a queer name; but
he used to call it


  THE BAGMAN'S STORY

and he used to tell it, something in this way.


'One winter's evening, about five o'clock, just as it began to grow
dusk, a man in a gig might have been seen urging his tired horse along
the road which leads across Marlborough Downs, in the direction of
Bristol. I say he might have been seen, and I have no doubt he would
have been, if anybody but a blind man had happened to pass that way; but
the weather was so bad, and the night so cold and wet, that nothing was
out but the water, and so the traveller jogged along in the middle of
the road, lonesome and dreary enough. If any bagman of that day could
have caught sight of the little neck-or-nothing sort of gig, with a
clay-coloured body and red wheels, and the vixenish, ill tempered,
fast-going bay mare, that looked like a cross between a butcher's horse
and a twopenny post-office pony, he would have known at once, that this
traveller could have been no other than Tom Smart, of the great house of
Bilson and Slum, Cateaton Street, City. However, as there was no bagman
to look on, nobody knew anything at all about the matter; and so Tom
Smart and his clay-coloured gig with the red wheels, and the vixenish
mare with the fast pace, went on together, keeping the secret among
them, and nobody was a bit the wiser.

'There are many pleasanter places even in this dreary world, than
Marlborough Downs when it blows hard; and if you throw in beside, a
gloomy winter's evening, a miry and sloppy road, and a pelting fall of
heavy rain, and try the effect, by way of experiment, in your own proper
person, you will experience the full force of this observation.

'The wind blew--not up the road or down it, though that's bad enough,
but sheer across it, sending the rain slanting down like the lines they
used to rule in the copy-books at school, to make the boys slope well.
For a moment it would die away, and the traveller would begin to delude
himself into the belief that, exhausted with its previous fury, it had
quietly laid itself down to rest, when, whoo! he could hear it growling
and whistling in the distance, and on it would come rushing over the
hill-tops, and sweeping along the plain, gathering sound and strength as
it drew nearer, until it dashed with a heavy gust against horse and man,
driving the sharp rain into their ears, and its cold damp breath into
their very bones; and past them it would scour, far, far away, with a
stunning roar, as if in ridicule of their weakness, and triumphant in
the consciousness of its own strength and power.

'The bay mare splashed away, through the mud and water, with drooping
ears; now and then tossing her head as if to express her disgust at this
very ungentlemanly behaviour of the elements, but keeping a good pace
notwithstanding, until a gust of wind, more furious than any that had
yet assailed them, caused her to stop suddenly and plant her four feet
firmly against the ground, to prevent her being blown over. It's a
special mercy that she did this, for if she HAD been blown over, the
vixenish mare was so light, and the gig was so light, and Tom Smart such
a light weight into the bargain, that they must infallibly have all
gone rolling over and over together, until they reached the confines of
earth, or until the wind fell; and in either case the probability is,
that neither the vixenish mare, nor the clay-coloured gig with the red
wheels, nor Tom Smart, would ever have been fit for service again.

'"Well, damn my straps and whiskers," says Tom Smart (Tom sometimes had
an unpleasant knack of swearing)--"damn my straps and whiskers," says
Tom, "if this ain't pleasant, blow me!"

'You'll very likely ask me why, as Tom Smart had been pretty well blown
already, he expressed this wish to be submitted to the same process
again. I can't say--all I know is, that Tom Smart said so--or at least
he always told my uncle he said so, and it's just the same thing.

"'Blow me," says Tom Smart; and the mare neighed as if she were
precisely of the same opinion.

"'Cheer up, old girl," said Tom, patting the bay mare on the neck with
the end of his whip. "It won't do pushing on, such a night as this; the
first house we come to we'll put up at, so the faster you go the sooner
it's over. Soho, old girl--gently--gently."

'Whether the vixenish mare was sufficiently well acquainted with the
tones of Tom's voice to comprehend his meaning, or whether she found it
colder standing still than moving on, of course I can't say. But I can
say that Tom had no sooner finished speaking, than she pricked up her
ears, and started forward at a speed which made the clay-coloured gig
rattle until you would have supposed every one of the red spokes were
going to fly out on the turf of Marlborough Downs; and even Tom, whip
as he was, couldn't stop or check her pace, until she drew up of her own
accord, before a roadside inn on the right-hand side of the way, about
half a quarter of a mile from the end of the Downs. 'Tom cast a hasty
glance at the upper part of the house as he threw the reins to the
hostler, and stuck the whip in the box. It was a strange old place,
built of a kind of shingle, inlaid, as it were, with cross-beams, with
gabled-topped windows projecting completely over the pathway, and a low
door with a dark porch, and a couple of steep steps leading down into
the house, instead of the modern fashion of half a dozen shallow ones
leading up to it. It was a comfortable-looking place though, for there
was a strong, cheerful light in the bar window, which shed a bright ray
across the road, and even lighted up the hedge on the other side; and
there was a red flickering light in the opposite window, one moment but
faintly discernible, and the next gleaming strongly through the drawn
curtains, which intimated that a rousing fire was blazing within.
Marking these little evidences with the eye of an experienced traveller,
Tom dismounted with as much agility as his half-frozen limbs would
permit, and entered the house.

'In less than five minutes' time, Tom was ensconced in the room opposite
the bar--the very room where he had imagined the fire blazing--before a
substantial, matter-of-fact, roaring fire, composed of something short
of a bushel of coals, and wood enough to make half a dozen decent
gooseberry bushes, piled half-way up the chimney, and roaring and
crackling with a sound that of itself would have warmed the heart of
any reasonable man. This was comfortable, but this was not all; for a
smartly-dressed girl, with a bright eye and a neat ankle, was laying a
very clean white cloth on the table; and as Tom sat with his slippered
feet on the fender, and his back to the open door, he saw a charming
prospect of the bar reflected in the glass over the chimney-piece, with
delightful rows of green bottles and gold labels, together with jars of
pickles and preserves, and cheeses and boiled hams, and rounds of beef,
arranged on shelves in the most tempting and delicious array. Well, this
was comfortable too; but even this was not all--for in the bar, seated
at tea at the nicest possible little table, drawn close up before the
brightest possible little fire, was a buxom widow of somewhere about
eight-and-forty or thereabouts, with a face as comfortable as the bar,
who was evidently the landlady of the house, and the supreme ruler over
all these agreeable possessions. There was only one drawback to the
beauty of the whole picture, and that was a tall man--a very tall
man--in a brown coat and bright basket buttons, and black whiskers
and wavy black hair, who was seated at tea with the widow, and who
it required no great penetration to discover was in a fair way of
persuading her to be a widow no longer, but to confer upon him the
privilege of sitting down in that bar, for and during the whole
remainder of the term of his natural life.

'Tom Smart was by no means of an irritable or envious disposition, but
somehow or other the tall man with the brown coat and the bright basket
buttons did rouse what little gall he had in his composition, and did
make him feel extremely indignant, the more especially as he could
now and then observe, from his seat before the glass, certain little
affectionate familiarities passing between the tall man and the widow,
which sufficiently denoted that the tall man was as high in favour as he
was in size. Tom was fond of hot punch--I may venture to say he was VERY
fond of hot punch--and after he had seen the vixenish mare well fed
and well littered down, and had eaten every bit of the nice little hot
dinner which the widow tossed up for him with her own hands, he just
ordered a tumbler of it by way of experiment. Now, if there was
one thing in the whole range of domestic art, which the widow could
manufacture better than another, it was this identical article; and
the first tumbler was adapted to Tom Smart's taste with such peculiar
nicety, that he ordered a second with the least possible delay. Hot
punch is a pleasant thing, gentlemen--an extremely pleasant thing under
any circumstances--but in that snug old parlour, before the roaring
fire, with the wind blowing outside till every timber in the old house
creaked again, Tom Smart found it perfectly delightful. He ordered
another tumbler, and then another--I am not quite certain whether he
didn't order another after that--but the more he drank of the hot punch,
the more he thought of the tall man.

'"Confound his impudence!" said Tom to himself, "what business has he
in that snug bar? Such an ugly villain too!" said Tom. "If the widow had
any taste, she might surely pick up some better fellow than that." Here
Tom's eye wandered from the glass on the chimney-piece to the glass on
the table; and as he felt himself becoming gradually sentimental, he
emptied the fourth tumbler of punch and ordered a fifth.

'Tom Smart, gentlemen, had always been very much attached to the public
line. It had been long his ambition to stand in a bar of his own, in a
green coat, knee-cords, and tops. He had a great notion of taking the
chair at convivial dinners, and he had often thought how well he could
preside in a room of his own in the talking way, and what a capital
example he could set to his customers in the drinking department. All
these things passed rapidly through Tom's mind as he sat drinking the
hot punch by the roaring fire, and he felt very justly and properly
indignant that the tall man should be in a fair way of keeping such an
excellent house, while he, Tom Smart, was as far off from it as ever.
So, after deliberating over the two last tumblers, whether he hadn't a
perfect right to pick a quarrel with the tall man for having contrived
to get into the good graces of the buxom widow, Tom Smart at last
arrived at the satisfactory conclusion that he was a very ill-used and
persecuted individual, and had better go to bed.

'Up a wide and ancient staircase the smart girl preceded Tom, shading
the chamber candle with her hand, to protect it from the currents of air
which in such a rambling old place might have found plenty of room to
disport themselves in, without blowing the candle out, but which did
blow it out nevertheless--thus affording Tom's enemies an opportunity of
asserting that it was he, and not the wind, who extinguished the candle,
and that while he pretended to be blowing it alight again, he was in
fact kissing the girl. Be this as it may, another light was obtained,
and Tom was conducted through a maze of rooms, and a labyrinth of
passages, to the apartment which had been prepared for his reception,
where the girl bade him good-night and left him alone.

'It was a good large room with big closets, and a bed which might have
served for a whole boarding-school, to say nothing of a couple of oaken
presses that would have held the baggage of a small army; but what
struck Tom's fancy most was a strange, grim-looking, high backed chair,
carved in the most fantastic manner, with a flowered damask cushion,
and the round knobs at the bottom of the legs carefully tied up in red
cloth, as if it had got the gout in its toes. Of any other queer chair,
Tom would only have thought it was a queer chair, and there would have
been an end of the matter; but there was something about this particular
chair, and yet he couldn't tell what it was, so odd and so unlike any
other piece of furniture he had ever seen, that it seemed to fascinate
him. He sat down before the fire, and stared at the old chair for half
an hour.--Damn the chair, it was such a strange old thing, he couldn't
take his eyes off it.

'"Well," said Tom, slowly undressing himself, and staring at the
old chair all the while, which stood with a mysterious aspect by the
bedside, "I never saw such a rum concern as that in my days. Very odd,"
said Tom, who had got rather sage with the hot punch--"very odd." Tom
shook his head with an air of profound wisdom, and looked at the chair
again. He couldn't make anything of it though, so he got into bed,
covered himself up warm, and fell asleep.

'In about half an hour, Tom woke up with a start, from a confused dream
of tall men and tumblers of punch; and the first object that presented
itself to his waking imagination was the queer chair.

'"I won't look at it any more," said Tom to himself, and he squeezed his
eyelids together, and tried to persuade himself he was going to sleep
again. No use; nothing but queer chairs danced before his eyes, kicking
up their legs, jumping over each other's backs, and playing all kinds of
antics.

"'I may as well see one real chair, as two or three complete sets of
false ones," said Tom, bringing out his head from under the bedclothes.
There it was, plainly discernible by the light of the fire, looking as
provoking as ever.

'Tom gazed at the chair; and, suddenly as he looked at it, a most
extraordinary change seemed to come over it. The carving of the back
gradually assumed the lineaments and expression of an old, shrivelled
human face; the damask cushion became an antique, flapped waistcoat; the
round knobs grew into a couple of feet, encased in red cloth slippers;
and the whole chair looked like a very ugly old man, of the previous
century, with his arms akimbo. Tom sat up in bed, and rubbed his eyes to
dispel the illusion. No. The chair was an ugly old gentleman; and what
was more, he was winking at Tom Smart.

'Tom was naturally a headlong, careless sort of dog, and he had had five
tumblers of hot punch into the bargain; so, although he was a little
startled at first, he began to grow rather indignant when he saw the
old gentleman winking and leering at him with such an impudent air. At
length he resolved that he wouldn't stand it; and as the old face still
kept winking away as fast as ever, Tom said, in a very angry tone--

'"What the devil are you winking at me for?"

'"Because I like it, Tom Smart," said the chair; or the old gentleman,
whichever you like to call him. He stopped winking though, when Tom
spoke, and began grinning like a superannuated monkey.

'"How do you know my name, old nut-cracker face?" inquired Tom Smart,
rather staggered; though he pretended to carry it off so well.

'"Come, come, Tom," said the old gentleman, "that's not the way to
address solid Spanish mahogany. Damme, you couldn't treat me with less
respect if I was veneered." When the old gentleman said this, he looked
so fierce that Tom began to grow frightened.

'"I didn't mean to treat you with any disrespect, Sir," said Tom, in a
much humbler tone than he had spoken in at first.

'"Well, well," said the old fellow, "perhaps not--perhaps not. Tom--"

'"Sir--"

'"I know everything about you, Tom; everything. You're very poor, Tom."

'"I certainly am," said Tom Smart. "But how came you to know that?"

'"Never mind that," said the old gentleman; "you're much too fond of
punch, Tom."

'Tom Smart was just on the point of protesting that he hadn't tasted a
drop since his last birthday, but when his eye encountered that of the
old gentleman he looked so knowing that Tom blushed, and was silent.

'"Tom," said the old gentleman, "the widow's a fine woman--remarkably
fine woman--eh, Tom?" Here the old fellow screwed up his eyes, cocked
up one of his wasted little legs, and looked altogether so unpleasantly
amorous, that Tom was quite disgusted with the levity of his
behaviour--at his time of life, too! '"I am her guardian, Tom," said the
old gentleman.

'"Are you?" inquired Tom Smart.

'"I knew her mother, Tom," said the old fellow: "and her grandmother.
She was very fond of me--made me this waistcoat, Tom."

'"Did she?" said Tom Smart.

'"And these shoes," said the old fellow, lifting up one of the red cloth
mufflers; "but don't mention it, Tom. I shouldn't like to have it
known that she was so much attached to me. It might occasion some
unpleasantness in the family." When the old rascal said this, he looked
so extremely impertinent, that, as Tom Smart afterwards declared, he
could have sat upon him without remorse.

'"I have been a great favourite among the women in my time, Tom," said
the profligate old debauchee; "hundreds of fine women have sat in my
lap for hours together. What do you think of that, you dog, eh!" The old
gentleman was proceeding to recount some other exploits of his youth,
when he was seized with such a violent fit of creaking that he was
unable to proceed.

'"Just serves you right, old boy," thought Tom Smart; but he didn't say
anything.

'"Ah!" said the old fellow, "I am a good deal troubled with this now.
I am getting old, Tom, and have lost nearly all my rails. I have had an
operation performed, too--a small piece let into my back--and I found it
a severe trial, Tom."

'"I dare say you did, Sir," said Tom Smart.

'"However," said the old gentleman, "that's not the point. Tom! I want
you to marry the widow."

'"Me, Sir!" said Tom.

'"You," said the old gentleman.

'"Bless your reverend locks," said Tom (he had a few scattered
horse-hairs left)--"bless your reverend locks, she wouldn't have me."
And Tom sighed involuntarily, as he thought of the bar.

'"Wouldn't she?" said the old gentleman firmly.

'"No, no," said Tom; "there's somebody else in the wind. A tall man--a
confoundedly tall man--with black whiskers."

'"Tom," said the old gentleman; "she will never have him."

'"Won't she?" said Tom. "If you stood in the bar, old gentleman, you'd
tell another story." '"Pooh, pooh," said the old gentleman. "I know all
about that."

'"About what?" said Tom.

'"The kissing behind the door, and all that sort of thing, Tom," said
the old gentleman. And here he gave another impudent look, which made
Tom very wroth, because as you all know, gentlemen, to hear an old
fellow, who ought to know better, talking about these things, is very
unpleasant--nothing more so.

'"I know all about that, Tom," said the old gentleman. "I have seen it
done very often in my time, Tom, between more people than I should like
to mention to you; but it never came to anything after all."

'"You must have seen some queer things," said Tom, with an inquisitive
look.

'"You may say that, Tom," replied the old fellow, with a very
complicated wink. "I am the last of my family, Tom," said the old
gentleman, with a melancholy sigh.

'"Was it a large one?" inquired Tom Smart.

'"There were twelve of us, Tom," said the old gentleman; "fine,
straight-backed, handsome fellows as you'd wish to see. None of your
modern abortions--all with arms, and with a degree of polish, though
I say it that should not, which it would have done your heart good to
behold."

'"And what's become of the others, Sir?" asked Tom Smart--

'The old gentleman applied his elbow to his eye as he replied,
"Gone, Tom, gone. We had hard service, Tom, and they hadn't all my
constitution. They got rheumatic about the legs and arms, and went into
kitchens and other hospitals; and one of 'em, with long service and hard
usage, positively lost his senses--he got so crazy that he was obliged
to be burnt. Shocking thing that, Tom."

'"Dreadful!" said Tom Smart.

'The old fellow paused for a few minutes, apparently struggling with his
feelings of emotion, and then said--

'"However, Tom, I am wandering from the point. This tall man, Tom, is a
rascally adventurer. The moment he married the widow, he would sell
off all the furniture, and run away. What would be the consequence? She
would be deserted and reduced to ruin, and I should catch my death of
cold in some broker's shop."

'"Yes, but--"

'"Don't interrupt me," said the old gentleman. "Of you, Tom, I entertain
a very different opinion; for I well know that if you once settled
yourself in a public-house, you would never leave it, as long as there
was anything to drink within its walls."

'"I am very much obliged to you for your good opinion, Sir," said Tom
Smart.

'"Therefore," resumed the old gentleman, in a dictatorial tone, "you
shall have her, and he shall not."

'"What is to prevent it?" said Tom Smart eagerly.

'"This disclosure," replied the old gentleman; "he is already married."

'"How can I prove it?" said Tom, starting half out of bed.

'The old gentleman untucked his arm from his side, and having pointed to
one of the oaken presses, immediately replaced it, in its old position.

'"He little thinks," said the old gentleman, "that in the right-hand
pocket of a pair of trousers in that press, he has left a letter,
entreating him to return to his disconsolate wife, with six--mark me,
Tom--six babes, and all of them small ones."

'As the old gentleman solemnly uttered these words, his features grew
less and less distinct, and his figure more shadowy. A film came over
Tom Smart's eyes. The old man seemed gradually blending into the chair,
the damask waistcoat to resolve into a cushion, the red slippers to
shrink into little red cloth bags. The light faded gently away, and Tom
Smart fell back on his pillow, and dropped asleep.

'Morning aroused Tom from the lethargic slumber, into which he had
fallen on the disappearance of the old man. He sat up in bed, and for
some minutes vainly endeavoured to recall the events of the preceding
night. Suddenly they rushed upon him. He looked at the chair; it was a
fantastic and grim-looking piece of furniture, certainly, but it must
have been a remarkably ingenious and lively imagination, that could have
discovered any resemblance between it and an old man.

'"How are you, old boy?" said Tom. He was bolder in the daylight--most
men are.

'The chair remained motionless, and spoke not a word.

'"Miserable morning," said Tom. No. The chair would not be drawn into
conversation.

'"Which press did you point to?--you can tell me that," said Tom. Devil
a word, gentlemen, the chair would say.

'"It's not much trouble to open it, anyhow," said Tom, getting out of
bed very deliberately. He walked up to one of the presses. The key was
in the lock; he turned it, and opened the door. There was a pair of
trousers there. He put his hand into the pocket, and drew forth the
identical letter the old gentleman had described!

'"Queer sort of thing, this," said Tom Smart, looking first at the chair
and then at the press, and then at the letter, and then at the chair
again. "Very queer," said Tom. But, as there was nothing in either, to
lessen the queerness, he thought he might as well dress himself, and
settle the tall man's business at once--just to put him out of his
misery.

'Tom surveyed the rooms he passed through, on his way downstairs, with
the scrutinising eye of a landlord; thinking it not impossible, that
before long, they and their contents would be his property. The tall man
was standing in the snug little bar, with his hands behind him, quite at
home. He grinned vacantly at Tom. A casual observer might have supposed
he did it, only to show his white teeth; but Tom Smart thought that a
consciousness of triumph was passing through the place where the tall
man's mind would have been, if he had had any. Tom laughed in his face;
and summoned the landlady.

'"Good-morning ma'am," said Tom Smart, closing the door of the little
parlour as the widow entered.

'"Good-morning, Sir," said the widow. "What will you take for breakfast,
sir?"

'Tom was thinking how he should open the case, so he made no answer.

'"There's a very nice ham," said the widow, "and a beautiful cold larded
fowl. Shall I send 'em in, Sir?"

'These words roused Tom from his reflections. His admiration of the
widow increased as she spoke. Thoughtful creature! Comfortable provider!

'"Who is that gentleman in the bar, ma'am?" inquired Tom.

'"His name is Jinkins, Sir," said the widow, slightly blushing.

'"He's a tall man," said Tom.

'"He is a very fine man, Sir," replied the widow, "and a very nice
gentleman."

'"Ah!" said Tom.

'"Is there anything more you want, Sir?" inquired the widow, rather
puzzled by Tom's manner. '"Why, yes," said Tom. "My dear ma'am, will you
have the kindness to sit down for one moment?"

'The widow looked much amazed, but she sat down, and Tom sat down too,
close beside her. I don't know how it happened, gentlemen--indeed my
uncle used to tell me that Tom Smart said he didn't know how it happened
either--but somehow or other the palm of Tom's hand fell upon the back
of the widow's hand, and remained there while he spoke.

'"My dear ma'am," said Tom Smart--he had always a great notion of
committing the amiable--"my dear ma'am, you deserve a very excellent
husband--you do indeed."

'"Lor, Sir!" said the widow--as well she might; Tom's mode of commencing
the conversation being rather unusual, not to say startling; the fact of
his never having set eyes upon her before the previous night being taken
into consideration. "Lor, Sir!"

'"I scorn to flatter, my dear ma'am," said Tom Smart. "You deserve a
very admirable husband, and whoever he is, he'll be a very lucky man."
As Tom said this, his eye involuntarily wandered from the widow's face
to the comfort around him.

'The widow looked more puzzled than ever, and made an effort to rise.
Tom gently pressed her hand, as if to detain her, and she kept her seat.
Widows, gentlemen, are not usually timorous, as my uncle used to say.

'"I am sure I am very much obliged to you, Sir, for your good opinion,"
said the buxom landlady, half laughing; "and if ever I marry again--"

'"IF," said Tom Smart, looking very shrewdly out of the right-hand
corner of his left eye. "IF--" "Well," said the widow, laughing
outright this time, "WHEN I do, I hope I shall have as good a husband as
you describe."

'"Jinkins, to wit," said Tom.

'"Lor, sir!" exclaimed the widow.

'"Oh, don't tell me," said Tom, "I know him."

'"I am sure nobody who knows him, knows anything bad of him," said the
widow, bridling up at the mysterious air with which Tom had spoken.

'"Hem!" said Tom Smart.

'The widow began to think it was high time to cry, so she took out her
handkerchief, and inquired whether Tom wished to insult her, whether
he thought it like a gentleman to take away the character of another
gentleman behind his back, why, if he had got anything to say, he didn't
say it to the man, like a man, instead of terrifying a poor weak woman
in that way; and so forth.

'"I'll say it to him fast enough," said Tom, "only I want you to hear it
first."

'"What is it?" inquired the widow, looking intently in Tom's
countenance.

'"I'll astonish you," said Tom, putting his hand in his pocket.

'"If it is, that he wants money," said the widow, "I know that already,
and you needn't trouble yourself." '"Pooh, nonsense, that's nothing,"
said Tom Smart, "I want money. 'Tain't that."

'"Oh, dear, what can it be?" exclaimed the poor widow.

'"Don't be frightened," said Tom Smart. He slowly drew forth the letter,
and unfolded it. "You won't scream?" said Tom doubtfully.

'"No, no," replied the widow; "let me see it."

'"You won't go fainting away, or any of that nonsense?" said Tom.

'"No, no," returned the widow hastily.

'"And don't run out, and blow him up," said Tom; "because I'll do all
that for you. You had better not exert yourself."

'"Well, well," said the widow, "let me see it."

'"I will," replied Tom Smart; and, with these words, he placed the
letter in the widow's hand.

'Gentlemen, I have heard my uncle say, that Tom Smart said the widow's
lamentations when she heard the disclosure would have pierced a heart of
stone. Tom was certainly very tender-hearted, but they pierced his, to
the very core. The widow rocked herself to and fro, and wrung her hands.

'"Oh, the deception and villainy of the man!" said the widow.

'"Frightful, my dear ma'am; but compose yourself," said Tom Smart.

'"Oh, I can't compose myself," shrieked the widow. "I shall never find
anyone else I can love so much!"

'"Oh, yes you will, my dear soul," said Tom Smart, letting fall a shower
of the largest-sized tears, in pity for the widow's misfortunes. Tom
Smart, in the energy of his compassion, had put his arm round the
widow's waist; and the widow, in a passion of grief, had clasped Tom's
hand. She looked up in Tom's face, and smiled through her tears. Tom
looked down in hers, and smiled through his.

'I never could find out, gentlemen, whether Tom did or did not kiss the
widow at that particular moment. He used to tell my uncle he didn't, but
I have my doubts about it. Between ourselves, gentlemen, I rather think
he did.

'At all events, Tom kicked the very tall man out at the front door half
an hour later, and married the widow a month after. And he used to drive
about the country, with the clay-coloured gig with the red wheels, and
the vixenish mare with the fast pace, till he gave up business many
years afterwards, and went to France with his wife; and then the old
house was pulled down.'


'Will you allow me to ask you,' said the inquisitive old gentleman,
'what became of the chair?'

'Why,' replied the one-eyed bagman, 'it was observed to creak very
much on the day of the wedding; but Tom Smart couldn't say for certain
whether it was with pleasure or bodily infirmity. He rather thought it
was the latter, though, for it never spoke afterwards.'

'Everybody believed the story, didn't they?' said the dirty-faced man,
refilling his pipe.

'Except Tom's enemies,' replied the bagman. 'Some of 'em said Tom
invented it altogether; and others said he was drunk and fancied it,
and got hold of the wrong trousers by mistake before he went to bed. But
nobody ever minded what THEY said.'

'Tom Smart said it was all true?'

'Every word.'

'And your uncle?'

'Every letter.'

'They must have been very nice men, both of 'em,' said the dirty-faced
man.

'Yes, they were,' replied the bagman; 'very nice men indeed!'



CHAPTER XV. IN WHICH IS GIVEN A FAITHFUL PORTRAITURE OF TWO
DISTINGUISHED PERSONS; AND AN ACCURATE DESCRIPTION OF A PUBLIC BREAKFAST
IN THEIR HOUSE AND GROUNDS: WHICH PUBLIC BREAKFAST LEADS TO THE
RECOGNITION OF AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE, AND THE COMMENCEMENT OF ANOTHER
CHAPTER


Mr. Pickwick's conscience had been somewhat reproaching him for his
recent neglect of his friends at the Peacock; and he was just on the
point of walking forth in quest of them, on the third morning after the
election had terminated, when his faithful valet put into his hand a
card, on which was engraved the following inscription:--

     Mrs. Leo Hunter
     THE DEN. EATANSWILL.

'Person's a-waitin',' said Sam, epigrammatically.

'Does the person want me, Sam?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.

'He wants you partickler; and no one else 'll do, as the devil's private
secretary said ven he fetched avay Doctor Faustus,' replied Mr. Weller.

'HE. Is it a gentleman?' said Mr. Pickwick.

'A wery good imitation o' one, if it ain't,' replied Mr. Weller.

'But this is a lady's card,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Given me by a gen'l'm'n, howsoever,' replied Sam, 'and he's a-waitin'
in the drawing-room--said he'd rather wait all day, than not see you.'

Mr. Pickwick, on hearing this determination, descended to the
drawing-room, where sat a grave man, who started up on his entrance, and
said, with an air of profound respect:--

'Mr. Pickwick, I presume?'

'The same.'

'Allow me, Sir, the honour of grasping your hand. Permit me, Sir, to
shake it,' said the grave man.

'Certainly,' said Mr. Pickwick. The stranger shook the extended hand,
and then continued--

'We have heard of your fame, sir. The noise of your antiquarian
discussion has reached the ears of Mrs. Leo Hunter--my wife, sir; I
am Mr. Leo Hunter'--the stranger paused, as if he expected that Mr.
Pickwick would be overcome by the disclosure; but seeing that he
remained perfectly calm, proceeded--

'My wife, sir--Mrs. Leo Hunter--is proud to number among her
acquaintance all those who have rendered themselves celebrated by their
works and talents. Permit me, sir, to place in a conspicuous part of the
list the name of Mr. Pickwick, and his brother-members of the club that
derives its name from him.'

'I shall be extremely happy to make the acquaintance of such a lady,
sir,' replied Mr. Pickwick.

'You SHALL make it, sir,' said the grave man. 'To-morrow morning, sir,
we give a public breakfast--a FETE CHAMPETRE--to a great number of those
who have rendered themselves celebrated by their works and talents.
Permit Mrs. Leo Hunter, Sir, to have the gratification of seeing you at
the Den.'

'With great pleasure,' replied Mr. Pickwick.

'Mrs. Leo Hunter has many of these breakfasts, Sir,' resumed the new
acquaintance--'"feasts of reason," sir, "and flows of soul," as somebody
who wrote a sonnet to Mrs. Leo Hunter on her breakfasts, feelingly and
originally observed.'

'Was HE celebrated for his works and talents?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.

'He was Sir,' replied the grave man, 'all Mrs. Leo Hunter's
acquaintances are; it is her ambition, sir, to have no other
acquaintance.'

'It is a very noble ambition,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'When I inform Mrs. Leo Hunter, that that remark fell from your
lips, sir, she will indeed be proud,' said the grave man. 'You have a
gentleman in your train, who has produced some beautiful little poems, I
think, sir.'

'My friend Mr. Snodgrass has a great taste for poetry,' replied Mr.
Pickwick.

'So has Mrs. Leo Hunter, Sir. She dotes on poetry, sir. She adores it; I
may say that her whole soul and mind are wound up, and entwined with it.
She has produced some delightful pieces, herself, sir. You may have met
with her "Ode to an Expiring Frog," sir.'

'I don't think I have,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'You astonish me, Sir,' said Mr. Leo Hunter. 'It created an immense
sensation. It was signed with an "L" and eight stars, and appeared
originally in a lady's magazine. It commenced--

     '"Can I view thee panting, lying
     On thy stomach, without sighing;
     Can I unmoved see thee dying
       On a log
       Expiring frog!"'

'Beautiful!' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Fine,' said Mr. Leo Hunter; 'so simple.'

'Very,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'The next verse is still more touching. Shall I repeat it?'

'If you please,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'It runs thus,' said the grave man, still more gravely.

     '"Say, have fiends in shape of boys,
     With wild halloo, and brutal noise,
     Hunted thee from marshy joys,
       With a dog,
       Expiring frog!"'

'Finely expressed,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'All point, Sir,' said Mr.
Leo Hunter; 'but you shall hear Mrs. Leo Hunter repeat it. She can do
justice to it, Sir. She will repeat it, in character, Sir, to-morrow
morning.'

'In character!'

'As Minerva. But I forgot--it's a fancy-dress DEJEUNE.'

'Dear me,' said Mr. Pickwick, glancing at his own figure--'I can't
possibly--'

'Can't, sir; can't!' exclaimed Mr. Leo Hunter. 'Solomon Lucas, the Jew
in the High Street, has thousands of fancy-dresses. Consider, Sir, how
many appropriate characters are open for your selection. Plato, Zeno,
Epicurus, Pythagoras--all founders of clubs.'

'I know that,' said Mr. Pickwick; 'but as I cannot put myself in
competition with those great men, I cannot presume to wear their
dresses.'

The grave man considered deeply, for a few seconds, and then said--

'On reflection, Sir, I don't know whether it would not afford Mrs. Leo
Hunter greater pleasure, if her guests saw a gentleman of your celebrity
in his own costume, rather than in an assumed one. I may venture to
promise an exception in your case, sir--yes, I am quite certain that, on
behalf of Mrs. Leo Hunter, I may venture to do so.'

'In that case,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'I shall have great pleasure in
coming.'

'But I waste your time, Sir,' said the grave man, as if suddenly
recollecting himself. 'I know its value, sir. I will not detain you. I
may tell Mrs. Leo Hunter, then, that she may confidently expect you and
your distinguished friends? Good-morning, Sir, I am proud to have beheld
so eminent a personage--not a step sir; not a word.' And without giving
Mr. Pickwick time to offer remonstrance or denial, Mr. Leo Hunter
stalked gravely away.

Mr. Pickwick took up his hat, and repaired to the Peacock, but Mr.
Winkle had conveyed the intelligence of the fancy-ball there, before
him.

'Mrs. Pott's going,' were the first words with which he saluted his
leader.

'Is she?' said Mr. Pickwick.

'As Apollo,' replied Winkle. 'Only Pott objects to the tunic.'

'He is right. He is quite right,' said Mr. Pickwick emphatically.

'Yes; so she's going to wear a white satin gown with gold spangles.'

'They'll hardly know what she's meant for; will they?' inquired Mr.
Snodgrass.

'Of course they will,' replied Mr. Winkle indignantly. 'They'll see her
lyre, won't they?'

'True; I forgot that,' said Mr. Snodgrass.

'I shall go as a bandit,'interposed Mr. Tupman.

'What!' said Mr. Pickwick, with a sudden start.

'As a bandit,' repeated Mr. Tupman, mildly.

'You don't mean to say,' said Mr. Pickwick, gazing with solemn sternness
at his friend--'you don't mean to say, Mr. Tupman, that it is your
intention to put yourself into a green velvet jacket, with a two-inch
tail?'

'Such IS my intention, Sir,' replied Mr. Tupman warmly. 'And why not,
sir?'

'Because, Sir,' said Mr. Pickwick, considerably excited--'because you
are too old, Sir.'

'Too old!' exclaimed Mr. Tupman.

'And if any further ground of objection be wanting,' continued Mr.
Pickwick, 'you are too fat, sir.'

'Sir,' said Mr. Tupman, his face suffused with a crimson glow, 'this is
an insult.'

'Sir,' replied Mr. Pickwick, in the same tone, 'it is not half the
insult to you, that your appearance in my presence in a green velvet
jacket, with a two-inch tail, would be to me.'

'Sir,' said Mr. Tupman, 'you're a fellow.'

'Sir,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'you're another!'

Mr. Tupman advanced a step or two, and glared at Mr. Pickwick. Mr.
Pickwick returned the glare, concentrated into a focus by means of his
spectacles, and breathed a bold defiance. Mr. Snodgrass and Mr. Winkle
looked on, petrified at beholding such a scene between two such men.

'Sir,' said Mr. Tupman, after a short pause, speaking in a low, deep
voice, 'you have called me old.'

'I have,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'And fat.'

'I reiterate the charge.'

'And a fellow.'

'So you are!'

There was a fearful pause.

'My attachment to your person, sir,' said Mr. Tupman, speaking in a
voice tremulous with emotion, and tucking up his wristbands meanwhile,
'is great--very great--but upon that person, I must take summary
vengeance.'

'Come on, Sir!' replied Mr. Pickwick. Stimulated by the exciting nature
of the dialogue, the heroic man actually threw himself into a paralytic
attitude, confidently supposed by the two bystanders to have been
intended as a posture of defence.

'What!' exclaimed Mr. Snodgrass, suddenly recovering the power of
speech, of which intense astonishment had previously bereft him,
and rushing between the two, at the imminent hazard of receiving an
application on the temple from each--'what! Mr. Pickwick, with the eyes
of the world upon you! Mr. Tupman! who, in common with us all, derives a
lustre from his undying name! For shame, gentlemen; for shame.'

The unwonted lines which momentary passion had ruled in Mr. Pickwick's
clear and open brow, gradually melted away, as his young friend spoke,
like the marks of a black-lead pencil beneath the softening influence of
india-rubber. His countenance had resumed its usual benign expression,
ere he concluded.

'I have been hasty,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'very hasty. Tupman; your hand.'

The dark shadow passed from Mr. Tupman's face, as he warmly grasped the
hand of his friend.

'I have been hasty, too,' said he.

'No, no,' interrupted Mr. Pickwick, 'the fault was mine. You will wear
the green velvet jacket?'

'No, no,' replied Mr. Tupman.

'To oblige me, you will,' resumed Mr. Pickwick.

'Well, well, I will,' said Mr. Tupman.

It was accordingly settled that Mr. Tupman, Mr. Winkle, and Mr.
Snodgrass, should all wear fancy-dresses. Thus Mr. Pickwick was led
by the very warmth of his own good feelings to give his consent to a
proceeding from which his better judgment would have recoiled--a more
striking illustration of his amiable character could hardly have been
conceived, even if the events recorded in these pages had been wholly
imaginary.

Mr. Leo Hunter had not exaggerated the resources of Mr. Solomon Lucas.
His wardrobe was extensive--very extensive--not strictly classical
perhaps, not quite new, nor did it contain any one garment made
precisely after the fashion of any age or time, but everything was more
or less spangled; and what can be prettier than spangles! It may be
objected that they are not adapted to the daylight, but everybody knows
that they would glitter if there were lamps; and nothing can be clearer
than that if people give fancy-balls in the day-time, and the dresses
do not show quite as well as they would by night, the fault lies solely
with the people who give the fancy-balls, and is in no wise chargeable
on the spangles. Such was the convincing reasoning of Mr. Solomon Lucas;
and influenced by such arguments did Mr. Tupman, Mr. Winkle, and Mr.
Snodgrass engage to array themselves in costumes which his taste and
experience induced him to recommend as admirably suited to the occasion.

A carriage was hired from the Town Arms, for the accommodation of the
Pickwickians, and a chariot was ordered from the same repository, for
the purpose of conveying Mr. and Mrs. Pott to Mrs. Leo Hunter's grounds,
which Mr. Pott, as a delicate acknowledgment of having received an
invitation, had already confidently predicted in the Eatanswill
GAZETTE 'would present a scene of varied and delicious enchantment--a
bewildering coruscation of beauty and talent--a lavish and prodigal
display of hospitality--above all, a degree of splendour softened by the
most exquisite taste; and adornment refined with perfect harmony and the
chastest good keeping--compared with which, the fabled gorgeousness of
Eastern fairyland itself would appear to be clothed in as many dark and
murky colours, as must be the mind of the splenetic and unmanly being
who could presume to taint with the venom of his envy, the preparations
made by the virtuous and highly distinguished lady at whose shrine this
humble tribute of admiration was offered.' This last was a piece of
biting sarcasm against the INDEPENDENT, who, in consequence of not
having been invited at all, had been, through four numbers, affecting
to sneer at the whole affair, in his very largest type, with all the
adjectives in capital letters.

The morning came: it was a pleasant sight to behold Mr. Tupman in full
brigand's costume, with a very tight jacket, sitting like a pincushion
over his back and shoulders, the upper portion of his legs incased in
the velvet shorts, and the lower part thereof swathed in the complicated
bandages to which all brigands are peculiarly attached. It was pleasing
to see his open and ingenuous countenance, well mustachioed and corked,
looking out from an open shirt collar; and to contemplate the sugar-loaf
hat, decorated with ribbons of all colours, which he was compelled to
carry on his knee, inasmuch as no known conveyance with a top to it,
would admit of any man's carrying it between his head and the roof.
Equally humorous and agreeable was the appearance of Mr. Snodgrass in
blue satin trunks and cloak, white silk tights and shoes, and Grecian
helmet, which everybody knows (and if they do not, Mr. Solomon Lucas
did) to have been the regular, authentic, everyday costume of a
troubadour, from the earliest ages down to the time of their final
disappearance from the face of the earth. All this was pleasant, but
this was as nothing compared with the shouting of the populace when the
carriage drew up, behind Mr. Pott's chariot, which chariot itself drew
up at Mr. Pott's door, which door itself opened, and displayed the great
Pott accoutred as a Russian officer of justice, with a tremendous knout
in his hand--tastefully typical of the stern and mighty power of the
Eatanswill GAZETTE, and the fearful lashings it bestowed on public
offenders.

'Bravo!' shouted Mr. Tupman and Mr. Snodgrass from the passage, when
they beheld the walking allegory.

'Bravo!' Mr. Pickwick was heard to exclaim, from the passage.

'Hoo-roar Pott!' shouted the populace. Amid these salutations, Mr. Pott,
smiling with that kind of bland dignity which sufficiently testified
that he felt his power, and knew how to exert it, got into the chariot.

Then there emerged from the house, Mrs. Pott, who would have looked very
like Apollo if she hadn't had a gown on, conducted by Mr. Winkle, who,
in his light-red coat could not possibly have been mistaken for anything
but a sportsman, if he had not borne an equal resemblance to a general
postman. Last of all came Mr. Pickwick, whom the boys applauded as loud
as anybody, probably under the impression that his tights and gaiters
were some remnants of the dark ages; and then the two vehicles proceeded
towards Mrs. Leo Hunter's; Mr. Weller (who was to assist in waiting)
being stationed on the box of that in which his master was seated.

Every one of the men, women, boys, girls, and babies, who were assembled
to see the visitors in their fancy-dresses, screamed with delight
and ecstasy, when Mr. Pickwick, with the brigand on one arm, and the
troubadour on the other, walked solemnly up the entrance. Never were
such shouts heard as those which greeted Mr. Tupman's efforts to fix the
sugar-loaf hat on his head, by way of entering the garden in style.

The preparations were on the most delightful scale; fully realising
the prophetic Pott's anticipations about the gorgeousness of Eastern
fairyland, and at once affording a sufficient contradiction to the
malignant statements of the reptile INDEPENDENT. The grounds were more
than an acre and a quarter in extent, and they were filled with people!
Never was such a blaze of beauty, and fashion, and literature. There was
the young lady who 'did' the poetry in the Eatanswill GAZETTE, in the
garb of a sultana, leaning upon the arm of the young gentleman who
'did' the review department, and who was appropriately habited in a
field-marshal's uniform--the boots excepted. There were hosts of these
geniuses, and any reasonable person would have thought it honour enough
to meet them. But more than these, there were half a dozen lions from
London--authors, real authors, who had written whole books, and printed
them afterwards--and here you might see 'em, walking about, like
ordinary men, smiling, and talking--aye, and talking pretty considerable
nonsense too, no doubt with the benign intention of rendering themselves
intelligible to the common people about them. Moreover, there was a band
of music in pasteboard caps; four something-ean singers in the costume
of their country, and a dozen hired waiters in the costume of THEIR
country--and very dirty costume too. And above all, there was Mrs.
Leo Hunter in the character of Minerva, receiving the company, and
overflowing with pride and gratification at the notion of having called
such distinguished individuals together.

'Mr. Pickwick, ma'am,' said a servant, as that gentleman approached
the presiding goddess, with his hat in his hand, and the brigand and
troubadour on either arm.

'What! Where!' exclaimed Mrs. Leo Hunter, starting up, in an affected
rapture of surprise.

'Here,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Is it possible that I have really the gratification of beholding Mr.
Pickwick himself!' ejaculated Mrs. Leo Hunter.

'No other, ma'am,' replied Mr. Pickwick, bowing very low. 'Permit me
to introduce my friends--Mr. Tupman--Mr. Winkle--Mr. Snodgrass--to the
authoress of "The Expiring Frog."' Very few people but those who have
tried it, know what a difficult process it is to bow in green velvet
smalls, and a tight jacket, and high-crowned hat; or in blue satin
trunks and white silks, or knee-cords and top-boots that were never
made for the wearer, and have been fixed upon him without the remotest
reference to the comparative dimensions of himself and the suit. Never
were such distortions as Mr. Tupman's frame underwent in his efforts
to appear easy and graceful--never was such ingenious posturing, as his
fancy-dressed friends exhibited.

'Mr. Pickwick,' said Mrs. Leo Hunter, 'I must make you promise not to
stir from my side the whole day. There are hundreds of people here, that
I must positively introduce you to.'

'You are very kind, ma'am,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'In the first place, here are my little girls; I had almost forgotten
them,' said Minerva, carelessly pointing towards a couple of full-grown
young ladies, of whom one might be about twenty, and the other a year
or two older, and who were dressed in very juvenile costumes--whether
to make them look young, or their mamma younger, Mr. Pickwick does not
distinctly inform us.

'They are very beautiful,' said Mr. Pickwick, as the juveniles turned
away, after being presented.

'They are very like their mamma, Sir,' said Mr. Pott, majestically.

'Oh, you naughty man,' exclaimed Mrs. Leo Hunter, playfully tapping the
editor's arm with her fan (Minerva with a fan!).

'Why now, my dear Mrs. Hunter,' said Mr. Pott, who was trumpeter
in ordinary at the Den, 'you know that when your picture was in the
exhibition of the Royal Academy, last year, everybody inquired whether
it was intended for you, or your youngest daughter; for you were so much
alike that there was no telling the difference between you.'

'Well, and if they did, why need you repeat it, before strangers?' said
Mrs. Leo Hunter, bestowing another tap on the slumbering lion of the
Eatanswill GAZETTE.

'Count, count,' screamed Mrs. Leo Hunter to a well-whiskered individual
in a foreign uniform, who was passing by.

'Ah! you want me?' said the count, turning back.

'I want to introduce two very clever people to each other,' said Mrs.
Leo Hunter. 'Mr. Pickwick, I have great pleasure in introducing you to
Count Smorltork.' She added in a hurried whisper to Mr. Pickwick--'The
famous foreigner--gathering materials for his great work on
England--hem!--Count Smorltork, Mr. Pickwick.' Mr. Pickwick saluted the
count with all the reverence due to so great a man, and the count drew
forth a set of tablets.

'What you say, Mrs. Hunt?' inquired the count, smiling graciously on
the gratified Mrs. Leo Hunter, 'Pig Vig or Big Vig--what you
call--lawyer--eh? I see--that is it. Big Vig'--and the count was
proceeding to enter Mr. Pickwick in his tablets, as a gentleman of
the long robe, who derived his name from the profession to which he
belonged, when Mrs. Leo Hunter interposed.

'No, no, count,' said the lady, 'Pick-wick.'

'Ah, ah, I see,' replied the count. 'Peek--christian name;
Weeks--surname; good, ver good. Peek Weeks. How you do, Weeks?'

'Quite well, I thank you,' replied Mr. Pickwick, with all his usual
affability. 'Have you been long in England?'

'Long--ver long time--fortnight--more.'

'Do you stay here long?'

'One week.'

'You will have enough to do,' said Mr. Pickwick smiling, 'to gather all
the materials you want in that time.'

'Eh, they are gathered,' said the count.

'Indeed!' said Mr. Pickwick.

'They are here,' added the count, tapping his forehead significantly.
'Large book at home--full of notes--music, picture, science, potry,
poltic; all tings.'

'The word politics, sir,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'comprises in itself, a
difficult study of no inconsiderable magnitude.'

'Ah!' said the count, drawing out the tablets again, 'ver good--fine
words to begin a chapter. Chapter forty-seven. Poltics. The word poltic
surprises by himself--' And down went Mr. Pickwick's remark, in Count
Smorltork's tablets, with such variations and additions as the count's
exuberant fancy suggested, or his imperfect knowledge of the language
occasioned.

'Count,' said Mrs. Leo Hunter. 'Mrs. Hunt,' replied the count.

'This is Mr. Snodgrass, a friend of Mr. Pickwick's, and a poet.'

'Stop,' exclaimed the count, bringing out the tablets once more. 'Head,
potry--chapter, literary friends--name, Snowgrass; ver good. Introduced
to Snowgrass--great poet, friend of Peek Weeks--by Mrs. Hunt, which
wrote other sweet poem--what is that name?--Fog--Perspiring Fog--ver
good--ver good indeed.' And the count put up his tablets, and with
sundry bows and acknowledgments walked away, thoroughly satisfied that
he had made the most important and valuable additions to his stock of
information.

'Wonderful man, Count Smorltork,' said Mrs. Leo Hunter.

'Sound philosopher,' said Mr. Pott.

'Clear-headed, strong-minded person,' added Mr. Snodgrass.

A chorus of bystanders took up the shout of Count Smorltork's praise,
shook their heads sagely, and unanimously cried, 'Very!'

As the enthusiasm in Count Smorltork's favour ran very high, his praises
might have been sung until the end of the festivities, if the four
something-ean singers had not ranged themselves in front of a small
apple-tree, to look picturesque, and commenced singing their national
songs, which appeared by no means difficult of execution, inasmuch as
the grand secret seemed to be, that three of the something-ean singers
should grunt, while the fourth howled. This interesting performance
having concluded amidst the loud plaudits of the whole company, a boy
forthwith proceeded to entangle himself with the rails of a chair,
and to jump over it, and crawl under it, and fall down with it, and do
everything but sit upon it, and then to make a cravat of his legs, and
tie them round his neck, and then to illustrate the ease with which a
human being can be made to look like a magnified toad--all which feats
yielded high delight and satisfaction to the assembled spectators.
After which, the voice of Mrs. Pott was heard to chirp faintly forth,
something which courtesy interpreted into a song, which was all very
classical, and strictly in character, because Apollo was himself a
composer, and composers can very seldom sing their own music or anybody
else's, either. This was succeeded by Mrs. Leo Hunter's recitation of
her far-famed 'Ode to an Expiring Frog,' which was encored once, and
would have been encored twice, if the major part of the guests, who
thought it was high time to get something to eat, had not said that it
was perfectly shameful to take advantage of Mrs. Hunter's good nature.
So although Mrs. Leo Hunter professed her perfect willingness to recite
the ode again, her kind and considerate friends wouldn't hear of it on
any account; and the refreshment room being thrown open, all the
people who had ever been there before, scrambled in with all possible
despatch--Mrs. Leo Hunter's usual course of proceedings being, to issue
cards for a hundred, and breakfast for fifty, or in other words to feed
only the very particular lions, and let the smaller animals take care of
themselves.

'Where is Mr. Pott?' said Mrs. Leo Hunter, as she placed the aforesaid
lions around her.

'Here I am,' said the editor, from the remotest end of the room; far
beyond all hope of food, unless something was done for him by the
hostess.

'Won't you come up here?'

'Oh, pray don't mind him,' said Mrs. Pott, in the most obliging
voice--'you give yourself a great deal of unnecessary trouble, Mrs.
Hunter. You'll do very well there, won't you--dear?'

'Certainly--love,' replied the unhappy Pott, with a grim smile. Alas for
the knout! The nervous arm that wielded it, with such a gigantic force
on public characters, was paralysed beneath the glance of the imperious
Mrs. Pott.

Mrs. Leo Hunter looked round her in triumph. Count Smorltork was busily
engaged in taking notes of the contents of the dishes; Mr. Tupman was
doing the honours of the lobster salad to several lionesses, with a
degree of grace which no brigand ever exhibited before; Mr. Snodgrass
having cut out the young gentleman who cut up the books for the
Eatanswill GAZETTE, was engaged in an impassioned argument with the
young lady who did the poetry; and Mr. Pickwick was making himself
universally agreeable. Nothing seemed wanting to render the select
circle complete, when Mr. Leo Hunter--whose department on these
occasions, was to stand about in doorways, and talk to the less
important people--suddenly called out--'My dear; here's Mr. Charles
Fitz-Marshall.'

'Oh dear,' said Mrs. Leo Hunter, 'how anxiously I have been expecting
him. Pray make room, to let Mr. Fitz-Marshall pass. Tell Mr.
Fitz-Marshall, my dear, to come up to me directly, to be scolded for
coming so late.'

'Coming, my dear ma'am,' cried a voice, 'as quick as I can--crowds of
people--full room--hard work--very.'

Mr. Pickwick's knife and fork fell from his hand. He stared across the
table at Mr. Tupman, who had dropped his knife and fork, and was looking
as if he were about to sink into the ground without further notice.

'Ah!' cried the voice, as its owner pushed his way among the last
five-and-twenty Turks, officers, cavaliers, and Charles the Seconds,
that remained between him and the table, 'regular mangle--Baker's
patent--not a crease in my coat, after all this squeezing--might have
"got up my linen" as I came along--ha! ha! not a bad idea, that--queer
thing to have it mangled when it's upon one, though--trying
process--very.'

With these broken words, a young man dressed as a naval officer made his
way up to the table, and presented to the astonished Pickwickians the
identical form and features of Mr. Alfred Jingle. The offender had
barely time to take Mrs. Leo Hunter's proffered hand, when his eyes
encountered the indignant orbs of Mr. Pickwick.

'Hollo!' said Jingle. 'Quite forgot--no directions to postillion--give
'em at once--back in a minute.'

'The servant, or Mr. Hunter will do it in a moment, Mr. Fitz-Marshall,'
said Mrs. Leo Hunter.

'No, no--I'll do it--shan't be long--back in no time,' replied Jingle.
With these words he disappeared among the crowd.

'Will you allow me to ask you, ma'am,' said the excited Mr. Pickwick,
rising from his seat, 'who that young man is, and where he resides?'

'He is a gentleman of fortune, Mr. Pickwick,' said Mrs. Leo Hunter, 'to
whom I very much want to introduce you. The count will be delighted with
him.'

'Yes, yes,' said Mr. Pickwick hastily. 'His residence--'

'Is at present at the Angel at Bury.'

'At Bury?'

'At Bury St. Edmunds, not many miles from here. But dear me, Mr.
Pickwick, you are not going to leave us; surely Mr. Pickwick you cannot
think of going so soon?'

But long before Mrs. Leo Hunter had finished speaking, Mr. Pickwick
had plunged through the throng, and reached the garden, whither he was
shortly afterwards joined by Mr. Tupman, who had followed his friend
closely.

'It's of no use,' said Mr. Tupman. 'He has gone.'

'I know it,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'and I will follow him.'

'Follow him! Where?' inquired Mr. Tupman.

'To the Angel at Bury,' replied Mr. Pickwick, speaking very quickly.
'How do we know whom he is deceiving there? He deceived a worthy man
once, and we were the innocent cause. He shall not do it again, if I can
help it; I'll expose him! Sam! Where's my servant?'

'Here you are, Sir,' said Mr. Weller, emerging from a sequestered spot,
where he had been engaged in discussing a bottle of Madeira, which he
had abstracted from the breakfast-table an hour or two before. 'Here's
your servant, Sir. Proud o' the title, as the living skellinton said,
ven they show'd him.'

'Follow me instantly,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'Tupman, if I stay at Bury,
you can join me there, when I write. Till then, good-bye!'

Remonstrances were useless. Mr. Pickwick was roused, and his mind was
made up. Mr. Tupman returned to his companions; and in another hour had
drowned all present recollection of Mr. Alfred Jingle, or Mr. Charles
Fitz-Marshall, in an exhilarating quadrille and a bottle of champagne.
By that time, Mr. Pickwick and Sam Weller, perched on the outside of
a stage-coach, were every succeeding minute placing a less and less
distance between themselves and the good old town of Bury St. Edmunds.



CHAPTER XVI. TOO FULL OF ADVENTURE TO BE BRIEFLY DESCRIBED


There is no month in the whole year in which nature wears a more
beautiful appearance than in the month of August. Spring has many
beauties, and May is a fresh and blooming month, but the charms of this
time of year are enhanced by their contrast with the winter season.
August has no such advantage. It comes when we remember nothing
but clear skies, green fields, and sweet-smelling flowers--when the
recollection of snow, and ice, and bleak winds, has faded from our minds
as completely as they have disappeared from the earth--and yet what
a pleasant time it is! Orchards and cornfields ring with the hum of
labour; trees bend beneath the thick clusters of rich fruit which bow
their branches to the ground; and the corn, piled in graceful sheaves,
or waving in every light breath that sweeps above it, as if it wooed
the sickle, tinges the landscape with a golden hue. A mellow softness
appears to hang over the whole earth; the influence of the season
seems to extend itself to the very wagon, whose slow motion across the
well-reaped field is perceptible only to the eye, but strikes with no
harsh sound upon the ear.

As the coach rolls swiftly past the fields and orchards which skirt
the road, groups of women and children, piling the fruit in sieves, or
gathering the scattered ears of corn, pause for an instant from their
labour, and shading the sun-burned face with a still browner hand, gaze
upon the passengers with curious eyes, while some stout urchin, too
small to work, but too mischievous to be left at home, scrambles over
the side of the basket in which he has been deposited for security, and
kicks and screams with delight. The reaper stops in his work, and stands
with folded arms, looking at the vehicle as it whirls past; and the
rough cart-horses bestow a sleepy glance upon the smart coach team,
which says as plainly as a horse's glance can, 'It's all very fine to
look at, but slow going, over a heavy field, is better than warm work
like that, upon a dusty road, after all.' You cast a look behind you, as
you turn a corner of the road. The women and children have resumed their
labour; the reaper once more stoops to his work; the cart-horses have
moved on; and all are again in motion. The influence of a scene like
this, was not lost upon the well-regulated mind of Mr. Pickwick. Intent
upon the resolution he had formed, of exposing the real character of
the nefarious Jingle, in any quarter in which he might be pursuing his
fraudulent designs, he sat at first taciturn and contemplative, brooding
over the means by which his purpose could be best attained. By degrees
his attention grew more and more attracted by the objects around him;
and at last he derived as much enjoyment from the ride, as if it had
been undertaken for the pleasantest reason in the world.

'Delightful prospect, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Beats the chimbley-pots, Sir,' replied Mr. Weller, touching his hat.

'I suppose you have hardly seen anything but chimney-pots and bricks and
mortar all your life, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick, smiling.

'I worn't always a boots, sir,' said Mr. Weller, with a shake of the
head. 'I wos a vaginer's boy, once.'

'When was that?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.

'When I wos first pitched neck and crop into the world, to play at
leap-frog with its troubles,' replied Sam. 'I wos a carrier's boy at
startin'; then a vaginer's, then a helper, then a boots. Now I'm a
gen'l'm'n's servant. I shall be a gen'l'm'n myself one of these days,
perhaps, with a pipe in my mouth, and a summer-house in the back-garden.
Who knows? I shouldn't be surprised for one.'

'You are quite a philosopher, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'It runs in the family, I b'lieve, sir,' replied Mr. Weller. 'My
father's wery much in that line now. If my mother-in-law blows him up,
he whistles. She flies in a passion, and breaks his pipe; he steps out,
and gets another. Then she screams wery loud, and falls into 'sterics;
and he smokes wery comfortably till she comes to agin. That's
philosophy, Sir, ain't it?'

'A very good substitute for it, at all events,' replied Mr. Pickwick,
laughing. 'It must have been of great service to you, in the course of
your rambling life, Sam.'

'Service, sir,' exclaimed Sam. 'You may say that. Arter I run away from
the carrier, and afore I took up with the vaginer, I had unfurnished
lodgin's for a fortnight.'

'Unfurnished lodgings?' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Yes--the dry arches of Waterloo Bridge. Fine sleeping-place--vithin ten
minutes' walk of all the public offices--only if there is any objection
to it, it is that the sitivation's rayther too airy. I see some queer
sights there.' 'Ah, I suppose you did,' said Mr. Pickwick, with an air
of considerable interest.

'Sights, sir,' resumed Mr. Weller, 'as 'ud penetrate your benevolent
heart, and come out on the other side. You don't see the reg'lar
wagrants there; trust 'em, they knows better than that. Young beggars,
male and female, as hasn't made a rise in their profession, takes
up their quarters there sometimes; but it's generally the worn-out,
starving, houseless creeturs as roll themselves in the dark corners o'
them lonesome places--poor creeturs as ain't up to the twopenny rope.'

'And pray, Sam, what is the twopenny rope?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.

'The twopenny rope, sir,' replied Mr. Weller, 'is just a cheap lodgin'
house, where the beds is twopence a night.'

'What do they call a bed a rope for?' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Bless your innocence, sir, that ain't it,' replied Sam. 'Ven the lady
and gen'l'm'n as keeps the hot-el first begun business, they used to
make the beds on the floor; but this wouldn't do at no price, 'cos
instead o' taking a moderate twopenn'orth o' sleep, the lodgers used to
lie there half the day. So now they has two ropes, 'bout six foot apart,
and three from the floor, which goes right down the room; and the beds
are made of slips of coarse sacking, stretched across 'em.'

'Well,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Well,' said Mr. Weller, 'the adwantage o' the plan's hobvious. At six
o'clock every mornin' they let's go the ropes at one end, and down falls
the lodgers. Consequence is, that being thoroughly waked, they get up
wery quietly, and walk away! Beg your pardon, sir,' said Sam, suddenly
breaking off in his loquacious discourse. 'Is this Bury St. Edmunds?'

'It is,' replied Mr. Pickwick.

The coach rattled through the well-paved streets of a handsome little
town, of thriving and cleanly appearance, and stopped before a large inn
situated in a wide open street, nearly facing the old abbey.

'And this,' said Mr. Pickwick, looking up. 'Is the Angel! We alight
here, Sam. But some caution is necessary. Order a private room, and do
not mention my name. You understand.'

'Right as a trivet, sir,' replied Mr. Weller, with a wink of
intelligence; and having dragged Mr. Pickwick's portmanteau from the
hind boot, into which it had been hastily thrown when they joined the
coach at Eatanswill, Mr. Weller disappeared on his errand. A private
room was speedily engaged; and into it Mr. Pickwick was ushered without
delay. 'Now, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'the first thing to be done is
to--' 'Order dinner, Sir,' interposed Mr. Weller. 'It's wery late, sir.'

'Ah, so it is,' said Mr. Pickwick, looking at his watch. 'You are right,
Sam.'

'And if I might adwise, Sir,' added Mr. Weller, 'I'd just have a good
night's rest arterwards, and not begin inquiring arter this here deep
'un till the mornin'. There's nothin' so refreshen' as sleep, sir, as
the servant girl said afore she drank the egg-cupful of laudanum.'

'I think you are right, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'But I must first
ascertain that he is in the house, and not likely to go away.'

'Leave that to me, Sir,' said Sam. 'Let me order you a snug little
dinner, and make my inquiries below while it's a-getting ready; I could
worm ev'ry secret out O' the boots's heart, in five minutes, Sir.' 'Do
so,' said Mr. Pickwick; and Mr. Weller at once retired.

In half an hour, Mr. Pickwick was seated at a very satisfactory dinner;
and in three-quarters Mr. Weller returned with the intelligence that Mr.
Charles Fitz-Marshall had ordered his private room to be retained for
him, until further notice. He was going to spend the evening at some
private house in the neighbourhood, had ordered the boots to sit up
until his return, and had taken his servant with him.

'Now, sir,' argued Mr. Weller, when he had concluded his report, 'if I
can get a talk with this here servant in the mornin', he'll tell me all
his master's concerns.'

'How do you know that?' interposed Mr. Pickwick.

'Bless your heart, sir, servants always do,' replied Mr. Weller.

'Oh, ah, I forgot that,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'Well.'

'Then you can arrange what's best to be done, sir, and we can act
accordingly.'

As it appeared that this was the best arrangement that could be made, it
was finally agreed upon. Mr. Weller, by his master's permission, retired
to spend the evening in his own way; and was shortly afterwards elected,
by the unanimous voice of the assembled company, into the taproom
chair, in which honourable post he acquitted himself so much to the
satisfaction of the gentlemen-frequenters, that their roars of laughter
and approbation penetrated to Mr. Pickwick's bedroom, and shortened the
term of his natural rest by at least three hours.

Early on the ensuing morning, Mr. Weller was dispelling all the
feverish remains of the previous evening's conviviality, through the
instrumentality of a halfpenny shower-bath (having induced a young
gentleman attached to the stable department, by the offer of that coin,
to pump over his head and face, until he was perfectly restored),
when he was attracted by the appearance of a young fellow in
mulberry-coloured livery, who was sitting on a bench in the yard,
reading what appeared to be a hymn-book, with an air of deep
abstraction, but who occasionally stole a glance at the individual under
the pump, as if he took some interest in his proceedings, nevertheless.

'You're a rum 'un to look at, you are!' thought Mr. Weller, the first
time his eyes encountered the glance of the stranger in the mulberry
suit, who had a large, sallow, ugly face, very sunken eyes, and a
gigantic head, from which depended a quantity of lank black hair.
'You're a rum 'un!' thought Mr. Weller; and thinking this, he went on
washing himself, and thought no more about him.

Still the man kept glancing from his hymn-book to Sam, and from Sam to
his hymn-book, as if he wanted to open a conversation. So at last, Sam,
by way of giving him an opportunity, said with a familiar nod--

'How are you, governor?'

'I am happy to say, I am pretty well, Sir,' said the man, speaking with
great deliberation, and closing the book. 'I hope you are the same,
Sir?'

'Why, if I felt less like a walking brandy-bottle I shouldn't be quite
so staggery this mornin',' replied Sam. 'Are you stoppin' in this house,
old 'un?'

The mulberry man replied in the affirmative.

'How was it you worn't one of us, last night?' inquired Sam, scrubbing
his face with the towel. 'You seem one of the jolly sort--looks as
conwivial as a live trout in a lime basket,' added Mr. Weller, in an
undertone.

'I was out last night with my master,' replied the stranger.

'What's his name?' inquired Mr. Weller, colouring up very red with
sudden excitement, and the friction of the towel combined.

'Fitz-Marshall,' said the mulberry man.

'Give us your hand,' said Mr. Weller, advancing; 'I should like to know
you. I like your appearance, old fellow.'

'Well, that is very strange,' said the mulberry man, with great
simplicity of manner. 'I like yours so much, that I wanted to speak
to you, from the very first moment I saw you under the pump.' 'Did you
though?'

'Upon my word. Now, isn't that curious?'

'Wery sing'ler,' said Sam, inwardly congratulating himself upon the
softness of the stranger. 'What's your name, my patriarch?'

'Job.'

'And a wery good name it is; only one I know that ain't got a nickname
to it. What's the other name?'

'Trotter,' said the stranger. 'What is yours?'

Sam bore in mind his master's caution, and replied--

'My name's Walker; my master's name's Wilkins. Will you take a drop o'
somethin' this mornin', Mr. Trotter?'

Mr. Trotter acquiesced in this agreeable proposal; and having deposited
his book in his coat pocket, accompanied Mr. Weller to the tap, where
they were soon occupied in discussing an exhilarating compound, formed
by mixing together, in a pewter vessel, certain quantities of British
Hollands and the fragrant essence of the clove.

'And what sort of a place have you got?' inquired Sam, as he filled his
companion's glass, for the second time.

'Bad,' said Job, smacking his lips, 'very bad.'

'You don't mean that?' said Sam.

'I do, indeed. Worse than that, my master's going to be married.'

'No.'

'Yes; and worse than that, too, he's going to run away with an immense
rich heiress, from boarding-school.'

'What a dragon!' said Sam, refilling his companion's glass. 'It's some
boarding-school in this town, I suppose, ain't it?' Now, although this
question was put in the most careless tone imaginable, Mr. Job Trotter
plainly showed by gestures that he perceived his new friend's anxiety to
draw forth an answer to it. He emptied his glass, looked mysteriously at
his companion, winked both of his small eyes, one after the other, and
finally made a motion with his arm, as if he were working an imaginary
pump-handle; thereby intimating that he (Mr. Trotter) considered himself
as undergoing the process of being pumped by Mr. Samuel Weller.

'No, no,' said Mr. Trotter, in conclusion, 'that's not to be told
to everybody. That is a secret--a great secret, Mr. Walker.' As the
mulberry man said this, he turned his glass upside down, by way of
reminding his companion that he had nothing left wherewith to slake his
thirst. Sam observed the hint; and feeling the delicate manner in which
it was conveyed, ordered the pewter vessel to be refilled, whereat the
small eyes of the mulberry man glistened.

'And so it's a secret?' said Sam.

'I should rather suspect it was,' said the mulberry man, sipping his
liquor, with a complacent face.

'I suppose your mas'r's wery rich?' said Sam.

Mr. Trotter smiled, and holding his glass in his left hand, gave four
distinct slaps on the pockets of his mulberry indescribables with
his right, as if to intimate that his master might have done the same
without alarming anybody much by the chinking of coin.

'Ah,' said Sam, 'that's the game, is it?'

The mulberry man nodded significantly.

'Well, and don't you think, old feller,' remonstrated Mr. Weller, 'that
if you let your master take in this here young lady, you're a precious
rascal?'

'I know that,' said Job Trotter, turning upon his companion a
countenance of deep contrition, and groaning slightly, 'I know that, and
that's what it is that preys upon my mind. But what am I to do?'

'Do!' said Sam; 'di-wulge to the missis, and give up your master.'

'Who'd believe me?' replied Job Trotter. 'The young lady's considered
the very picture of innocence and discretion. She'd deny it, and so
would my master. Who'd believe me? I should lose my place, and get
indicted for a conspiracy, or some such thing; that's all I should take
by my motion.'

'There's somethin' in that,' said Sam, ruminating; 'there's somethin' in
that.'

'If I knew any respectable gentleman who would take the matter up,'
continued Mr. Trotter. 'I might have some hope of preventing the
elopement; but there's the same difficulty, Mr. Walker, just the same.
I know no gentleman in this strange place; and ten to one if I did,
whether he would believe my story.'

'Come this way,' said Sam, suddenly jumping up, and grasping the
mulberry man by the arm. 'My mas'r's the man you want, I see.' And after
a slight resistance on the part of Job Trotter, Sam led his newly-found
friend to the apartment of Mr. Pickwick, to whom he presented him,
together with a brief summary of the dialogue we have just repeated.

'I am very sorry to betray my master, sir,' said Job Trotter, applying
to his eyes a pink checked pocket-handkerchief about six inches square.

'The feeling does you a great deal of honour,' replied Mr. Pickwick;
'but it is your duty, nevertheless.'

'I know it is my duty, Sir,' replied Job, with great emotion. 'We should
all try to discharge our duty, Sir, and I humbly endeavour to discharge
mine, Sir; but it is a hard trial to betray a master, Sir, whose clothes
you wear, and whose bread you eat, even though he is a scoundrel, Sir.'

'You are a very good fellow,' said Mr. Pickwick, much affected; 'an
honest fellow.'

'Come, come,' interposed Sam, who had witnessed Mr. Trotter's tears with
considerable impatience, 'blow this 'ere water-cart bis'ness. It won't
do no good, this won't.'

'Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick reproachfully. 'I am sorry to find that you
have so little respect for this young man's feelings.'

'His feelin's is all wery well, Sir,' replied Mr. Weller; 'and as
they're so wery fine, and it's a pity he should lose 'em, I think he'd
better keep 'em in his own buzzum, than let 'em ewaporate in hot water,
'specially as they do no good. Tears never yet wound up a clock, or
worked a steam ingin'. The next time you go out to a smoking party,
young fellow, fill your pipe with that 'ere reflection; and for the
present just put that bit of pink gingham into your pocket. 'Tain't so
handsome that you need keep waving it about, as if you was a tight-rope
dancer.'

'My man is in the right,' said Mr. Pickwick, accosting Job, 'although
his mode of expressing his opinion is somewhat homely, and occasionally
incomprehensible.'

'He is, sir, very right,' said Mr. Trotter, 'and I will give way
no longer.' 'Very well,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'Now, where is this
boarding-school?'

'It is a large, old, red brick house, just outside the town, Sir,'
replied Job Trotter.

'And when,' said Mr. Pickwick--'when is this villainous design to be
carried into execution--when is this elopement to take place?'

'To-night, Sir,' replied Job.

'To-night!' exclaimed Mr. Pickwick. 'This very night, sir,' replied Job
Trotter. 'That is what alarms me so much.'

'Instant measures must be taken,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'I will see the
lady who keeps the establishment immediately.'

'I beg your pardon, Sir,' said Job, 'but that course of proceeding will
never do.'

'Why not?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.

'My master, sir, is a very artful man.'

'I know he is,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'And he has so wound himself round the old lady's heart, Sir,' resumed
Job, 'that she would believe nothing to his prejudice, if you went down
on your bare knees, and swore it; especially as you have no proof but
the word of a servant, who, for anything she knows (and my master would
be sure to say so), was discharged for some fault, and does this in
revenge.'

'What had better be done, then?' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Nothing but taking him in the very act of eloping, will convince the
old lady, sir,' replied Job.

'All them old cats WILL run their heads agin milestones,' observed Mr.
Weller, in a parenthesis.

'But this taking him in the very act of elopement, would be a very
difficult thing to accomplish, I fear,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'I don't know, sir,' said Mr. Trotter, after a few moments' reflection.
'I think it might be very easily done.'

'How?' was Mr. Pickwick's inquiry.

'Why,' replied Mr. Trotter, 'my master and I, being in the confidence of
the two servants, will be secreted in the kitchen at ten o'clock. When
the family have retired to rest, we shall come out of the kitchen, and
the young lady out of her bedroom. A post-chaise will be waiting, and
away we go.'

'Well?' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Well, sir, I have been thinking that if you were in waiting in the
garden behind, alone--'

'Alone,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'Why alone?'

'I thought it very natural,' replied Job, 'that the old lady wouldn't
like such an unpleasant discovery to be made before more persons
than can possibly be helped. The young lady, too, sir--consider her
feelings.'

'You are very right,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'The consideration evinces your
delicacy of feeling. Go on; you are very right.'

'Well, sir, I have been thinking that if you were waiting in the back
garden alone, and I was to let you in, at the door which opens into it,
from the end of the passage, at exactly half-past eleven o'clock, you
would be just in the very moment of time to assist me in frustrating the
designs of this bad man, by whom I have been unfortunately ensnared.'
Here Mr. Trotter sighed deeply.

'Don't distress yourself on that account,' said Mr. Pickwick; 'if he had
one grain of the delicacy of feeling which distinguishes you, humble as
your station is, I should have some hopes of him.'

Job Trotter bowed low; and in spite of Mr. Weller's previous
remonstrance, the tears again rose to his eyes.

'I never see such a feller,' said Sam, 'Blessed if I don't think he's
got a main in his head as is always turned on.'

'Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick, with great severity, 'hold your tongue.'

'Wery well, sir,' replied Mr. Weller.

'I don't like this plan,' said Mr. Pickwick, after deep meditation. 'Why
cannot I communicate with the young lady's friends?'

'Because they live one hundred miles from here, sir,' responded Job
Trotter.

'That's a clincher,' said Mr. Weller, aside.

'Then this garden,' resumed Mr. Pickwick. 'How am I to get into it?'

'The wall is very low, sir, and your servant will give you a leg up.'
'My servant will give me a leg up,' repeated Mr. Pickwick mechanically.
'You will be sure to be near this door that you speak of?'

'You cannot mistake it, Sir; it's the only one that opens into the
garden. Tap at it when you hear the clock strike, and I will open it
instantly.'

'I don't like the plan,' said Mr. Pickwick; 'but as I see no other, and
as the happiness of this young lady's whole life is at stake, I adopt
it. I shall be sure to be there.'

Thus, for the second time, did Mr. Pickwick's innate good-feeling
involve him in an enterprise from which he would most willingly have
stood aloof.

'What is the name of the house?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.

'Westgate House, Sir. You turn a little to the right when you get to the
end of the town; it stands by itself, some little distance off the high
road, with the name on a brass plate on the gate.'

'I know it,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'I observed it once before, when I was
in this town. You may depend upon me.'

Mr. Trotter made another bow, and turned to depart, when Mr. Pickwick
thrust a guinea into his hand.

'You're a fine fellow,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'and I admire your goodness
of heart. No thanks. Remember--eleven o'clock.'

'There is no fear of my forgetting it, sir,' replied Job Trotter. With
these words he left the room, followed by Sam.

'I say,' said the latter, 'not a bad notion that 'ere crying. I'd cry
like a rain-water spout in a shower on such good terms. How do you do
it?'

'It comes from the heart, Mr. Walker,' replied Job solemnly.
'Good-morning, sir.'

'You're a soft customer, you are; we've got it all out o' you, anyhow,'
thought Mr. Weller, as Job walked away.

We cannot state the precise nature of the thoughts which passed through
Mr. Trotter's mind, because we don't know what they were.

The day wore on, evening came, and at a little before ten o'clock Sam
Weller reported that Mr. Jingle and Job had gone out together, that
their luggage was packed up, and that they had ordered a chaise. The
plot was evidently in execution, as Mr. Trotter had foretold.

Half-past ten o'clock arrived, and it was time for Mr. Pickwick to issue
forth on his delicate errand. Resisting Sam's tender of his greatcoat,
in order that he might have no encumbrance in scaling the wall, he set
forth, followed by his attendant.

There was a bright moon, but it was behind the clouds. It was a fine dry
night, but it was most uncommonly dark. Paths, hedges, fields, houses,
and trees, were enveloped in one deep shade. The atmosphere was hot
and sultry, the summer lightning quivered faintly on the verge of the
horizon, and was the only sight that varied the dull gloom in which
everything was wrapped--sound there was none, except the distant barking
of some restless house-dog.

They found the house, read the brass plate, walked round the wall, and
stopped at that portion of it which divided them from the bottom of the
garden.

'You will return to the inn, Sam, when you have assisted me over,' said
Mr. Pickwick.

'Wery well, Sir.'

'And you will sit up, till I return.'

'Cert'nly, Sir.'

'Take hold of my leg; and, when I say "Over," raise me gently.'

'All right, sir.'

Having settled these preliminaries, Mr. Pickwick grasped the top of the
wall, and gave the word 'Over,' which was literally obeyed. Whether his
body partook in some degree of the elasticity of his mind, or whether
Mr. Weller's notions of a gentle push were of a somewhat rougher
description than Mr. Pickwick's, the immediate effect of his assistance
was to jerk that immortal gentleman completely over the wall on to
the bed beneath, where, after crushing three gooseberry-bushes and a
rose-tree, he finally alighted at full length.

'You ha'n't hurt yourself, I hope, Sir?' said Sam, in a loud whisper,
as soon as he had recovered from the surprise consequent upon the
mysterious disappearance of his master.

'I have not hurt MYSELF, Sam, certainly,' replied Mr. Pickwick, from the
other side of the wall, 'but I rather think that YOU have hurt me.'

'I hope not, Sir,' said Sam.

'Never mind,' said Mr. Pickwick, rising, 'it's nothing but a few
scratches. Go away, or we shall be overheard.'

'Good-bye, Sir.'

'Good-bye.'

With stealthy steps Sam Weller departed, leaving Mr. Pickwick alone in
the garden.

Lights occasionally appeared in the different windows of the house, or
glanced from the staircases, as if the inmates were retiring to rest.
Not caring to go too near the door, until the appointed time, Mr.
Pickwick crouched into an angle of the wall, and awaited its arrival.

It was a situation which might well have depressed the spirits of many
a man. Mr. Pickwick, however, felt neither depression nor misgiving. He
knew that his purpose was in the main a good one, and he placed implicit
reliance on the high-minded Job. It was dull, certainly; not to say
dreary; but a contemplative man can always employ himself in meditation.
Mr. Pickwick had meditated himself into a doze, when he was roused by
the chimes of the neighbouring church ringing out the hour--half-past
eleven.

'That's the time,' thought Mr. Pickwick, getting cautiously on his feet.
He looked up at the house. The lights had disappeared, and the shutters
were closed--all in bed, no doubt. He walked on tiptoe to the door, and
gave a gentle tap. Two or three minutes passing without any reply, he
gave another tap rather louder, and then another rather louder than
that.

At length the sound of feet was audible upon the stairs, and then the
light of a candle shone through the keyhole of the door. There was a
good deal of unchaining and unbolting, and the door was slowly opened.

Now the door opened outwards; and as the door opened wider and wider,
Mr. Pickwick receded behind it, more and more. What was his astonishment
when he just peeped out, by way of caution, to see that the person who
had opened it was--not Job Trotter, but a servant-girl with a candle
in her hand! Mr. Pickwick drew in his head again, with the swiftness
displayed by that admirable melodramatic performer, Punch, when he lies
in wait for the flat-headed comedian with the tin box of music.

'It must have been the cat, Sarah,' said the girl, addressing herself to
some one in the house. 'Puss, puss, puss,--tit, tit, tit.'

But no animal being decoyed by these blandishments, the girl slowly
closed the door, and re-fastened it; leaving Mr. Pickwick drawn up
straight against the wall.

'This is very curious,' thought Mr. Pickwick. 'They are sitting up
beyond their usual hour, I suppose. Extremely unfortunate, that
they should have chosen this night, of all others, for such a
purpose--exceedingly.' And with these thoughts, Mr. Pickwick cautiously
retired to the angle of the wall in which he had been before ensconced;
waiting until such time as he might deem it safe to repeat the signal.

He had not been here five minutes, when a vivid flash of lightning was
followed by a loud peal of thunder that crashed and rolled away in the
distance with a terrific noise--then came another flash of lightning,
brighter than the other, and a second peal of thunder louder than the
first; and then down came the rain, with a force and fury that swept
everything before it.

Mr. Pickwick was perfectly aware that a tree is a very dangerous
neighbour in a thunderstorm. He had a tree on his right, a tree on his
left, a third before him, and a fourth behind. If he remained where he
was, he might fall the victim of an accident; if he showed himself in
the centre of the garden, he might be consigned to a constable. Once or
twice he tried to scale the wall, but having no other legs this time,
than those with which Nature had furnished him, the only effect of his
struggles was to inflict a variety of very unpleasant gratings on his
knees and shins, and to throw him into a state of the most profuse
perspiration.

'What a dreadful situation,' said Mr. Pickwick, pausing to wipe his brow
after this exercise. He looked up at the house--all was dark. They must
be gone to bed now. He would try the signal again.

He walked on tiptoe across the moist gravel, and tapped at the door.
He held his breath, and listened at the key-hole. No reply: very odd.
Another knock. He listened again. There was a low whispering inside, and
then a voice cried--

'Who's there?'

'That's not Job,' thought Mr. Pickwick, hastily drawing himself straight
up against the wall again. 'It's a woman.'

He had scarcely had time to form this conclusion, when a window above
stairs was thrown up, and three or four female voices repeated the
query--'Who's there?'

Mr. Pickwick dared not move hand or foot. It was clear that the whole
establishment was roused. He made up his mind to remain where he was,
until the alarm had subsided; and then by a supernatural effort, to get
over the wall, or perish in the attempt.

Like all Mr. Pickwick's determinations, this was the best that could be
made under the circumstances; but, unfortunately, it was founded upon
the assumption that they would not venture to open the door again. What
was his discomfiture, when he heard the chain and bolts withdrawn, and
saw the door slowly opening, wider and wider! He retreated into the
corner, step by step; but do what he would, the interposition of his own
person, prevented its being opened to its utmost width.

'Who's there?' screamed a numerous chorus of treble voices from the
staircase inside, consisting of the spinster lady of the establishment,
three teachers, five female servants, and thirty boarders, all
half-dressed and in a forest of curl-papers.

Of course Mr. Pickwick didn't say who was there: and then the burden of
the chorus changed into--'Lor! I am so frightened.'

'Cook,' said the lady abbess, who took care to be on the top stair, the
very last of the group--'cook, why don't you go a little way into the
garden?' 'Please, ma'am, I don't like,' responded the cook.

'Lor, what a stupid thing that cook is!' said the thirty boarders.

'Cook,' said the lady abbess, with great dignity; 'don't answer me, if
you please. I insist upon your looking into the garden immediately.'

Here the cook began to cry, and the housemaid said it was 'a shame!' for
which partisanship she received a month's warning on the spot.

'Do you hear, cook?' said the lady abbess, stamping her foot
impatiently.

'Don't you hear your missis, cook?' said the three teachers.

'What an impudent thing that cook is!' said the thirty boarders.

The unfortunate cook, thus strongly urged, advanced a step or two,
and holding her candle just where it prevented her from seeing at all,
declared there was nothing there, and it must have been the wind. The
door was just going to be closed in consequence, when an inquisitive
boarder, who had been peeping between the hinges, set up a fearful
screaming, which called back the cook and housemaid, and all the more
adventurous, in no time.

'What is the matter with Miss Smithers?' said the lady abbess, as the
aforesaid Miss Smithers proceeded to go into hysterics of four young
lady power.

'Lor, Miss Smithers, dear,' said the other nine-and-twenty boarders.

'Oh, the man--the man--behind the door!' screamed Miss Smithers.

The lady abbess no sooner heard this appalling cry, than she
retreated to her own bedroom, double-locked the door, and fainted away
comfortably. The boarders, and the teachers, and the servants, fell back
upon the stairs, and upon each other; and never was such a screaming,
and fainting, and struggling beheld. In the midst of the tumult, Mr.
Pickwick emerged from his concealment, and presented himself amongst
them.

'Ladies--dear ladies,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Oh. he says we're dear,' cried the oldest and ugliest teacher. 'Oh, the
wretch!'

'Ladies,' roared Mr. Pickwick, rendered desperate by the danger of his
situation. 'Hear me. I am no robber. I want the lady of the house.'

'Oh, what a ferocious monster!' screamed another teacher. 'He wants Miss
Tomkins.'

Here there was a general scream.

'Ring the alarm bell, somebody!' cried a dozen voices.

'Don't--don't,' shouted Mr. Pickwick. 'Look at me. Do I look like a
robber! My dear ladies--you may bind me hand and leg, or lock me up in a
closet, if you like. Only hear what I have got to say--only hear me.'

'How did you come in our garden?' faltered the housemaid.

'Call the lady of the house, and I'll tell her everything,' said Mr.
Pickwick, exerting his lungs to the utmost pitch. 'Call her--only be
quiet, and call her, and you shall hear everything.'

It might have been Mr. Pickwick's appearance, or it might have been his
manner, or it might have been the temptation--irresistible to a female
mind--of hearing something at present enveloped in mystery, that reduced
the more reasonable portion of the establishment (some four individuals)
to a state of comparative quiet. By them it was proposed, as a test of
Mr. Pickwick's sincerity, that he should immediately submit to personal
restraint; and that gentleman having consented to hold a conference with
Miss Tomkins, from the interior of a closet in which the day boarders
hung their bonnets and sandwich-bags, he at once stepped into it, of
his own accord, and was securely locked in. This revived the others; and
Miss Tomkins having been brought to, and brought down, the conference
began.

'What did you do in my garden, man?' said Miss Tomkins, in a faint
voice.

'I came to warn you that one of your young ladies was going to elope
to-night,' replied Mr. Pickwick, from the interior of the closet.

'Elope!' exclaimed Miss Tomkins, the three teachers, the thirty
boarders, and the five servants. 'Who with?' 'Your friend, Mr. Charles
Fitz-Marshall.'

'MY friend! I don't know any such person.'

'Well, Mr. Jingle, then.'

'I never heard the name in my life.'

'Then, I have been deceived, and deluded,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'I have
been the victim of a conspiracy--a foul and base conspiracy. Send to the
Angel, my dear ma'am, if you don't believe me. Send to the Angel for Mr.
Pickwick's manservant, I implore you, ma'am.'

'He must be respectable--he keeps a manservant,' said Miss Tomkins to
the writing and ciphering governess.

'It's my opinion, Miss Tomkins,' said the writing and ciphering
governess, 'that his manservant keeps him, I think he's a madman, Miss
Tomkins, and the other's his keeper.'

'I think you are very right, Miss Gwynn,' responded Miss Tomkins. 'Let
two of the servants repair to the Angel, and let the others remain here,
to protect us.'

So two of the servants were despatched to the Angel in search of Mr.
Samuel Weller; and the remaining three stopped behind to protect Miss
Tomkins, and the three teachers, and the thirty boarders. And Mr.
Pickwick sat down in the closet, beneath a grove of sandwich-bags,
and awaited the return of the messengers, with all the philosophy and
fortitude he could summon to his aid.

An hour and a half elapsed before they came back, and when they did
come, Mr. Pickwick recognised, in addition to the voice of Mr. Samuel
Weller, two other voices, the tones of which struck familiarly on his
ear; but whose they were, he could not for the life of him call to mind.

A very brief conversation ensued. The door was unlocked. Mr. Pickwick
stepped out of the closet, and found himself in the presence of the
whole establishment of Westgate House, Mr Samuel Weller, and--old
Wardle, and his destined son-in-law, Mr. Trundle!

'My dear friend,' said Mr. Pickwick, running forward and grasping
Wardle's hand, 'my dear friend, pray, for Heaven's sake, explain to this
lady the unfortunate and dreadful situation in which I am placed. You
must have heard it from my servant; say, at all events, my dear fellow,
that I am neither a robber nor a madman.'

'I have said so, my dear friend. I have said so already,' replied Mr.
Wardle, shaking the right hand of his friend, while Mr. Trundle shook
the left. 'And whoever says, or has said, he is,' interposed Mr. Weller,
stepping forward, 'says that which is not the truth, but so far from it,
on the contrary, quite the rewerse. And if there's any number o' men on
these here premises as has said so, I shall be wery happy to give 'em
all a wery convincing proof o' their being mistaken, in this here wery
room, if these wery respectable ladies 'll have the goodness to retire,
and order 'em up, one at a time.' Having delivered this defiance with
great volubility, Mr. Weller struck his open palm emphatically with his
clenched fist, and winked pleasantly on Miss Tomkins, the intensity of
whose horror at his supposing it within the bounds of possibility that
there could be any men on the premises of Westgate House Establishment
for Young Ladies, it is impossible to describe.

Mr. Pickwick's explanation having already been partially made, was soon
concluded. But neither in the course of his walk home with his friends,
nor afterwards when seated before a blazing fire at the supper he so
much needed, could a single observation be drawn from him. He seemed
bewildered and amazed. Once, and only once, he turned round to Mr.
Wardle, and said--

'How did you come here?'

'Trundle and I came down here, for some good shooting on the first,'
replied Wardle. 'We arrived to-night, and were astonished to hear from
your servant that you were here too. But I am glad you are,' said the
old fellow, slapping him on the back--'I am glad you are. We shall have
a jovial party on the first, and we'll give Winkle another chance--eh,
old boy?'

Mr. Pickwick made no reply, he did not even ask after his friends at
Dingley Dell, and shortly afterwards retired for the night, desiring Sam
to fetch his candle when he rung. The bell did ring in due course, and
Mr. Weller presented himself.

'Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick, looking out from under the bed-clothes.

'Sir,' said Mr. Weller.

Mr. Pickwick paused, and Mr. Weller snuffed the candle.

'Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick again, as if with a desperate effort.

'Sir,' said Mr. Weller, once more.

'Where is that Trotter?'

'Job, sir?'

'Yes.

'Gone, sir.'

'With his master, I suppose?'

'Friend or master, or whatever he is, he's gone with him,' replied Mr.
Weller. 'There's a pair on 'em, sir.'

'Jingle suspected my design, and set that fellow on you, with this
story, I suppose?' said Mr. Pickwick, half choking.

'Just that, sir,' replied Mr. Weller.

'It was all false, of course?'

'All, sir,' replied Mr. Weller. 'Reg'lar do, sir; artful dodge.'

'I don't think he'll escape us quite so easily the next time, Sam!' said
Mr. Pickwick.

'I don't think he will, Sir.'

'Whenever I meet that Jingle again, wherever it is,' said Mr. Pickwick,
raising himself in bed, and indenting his pillow with a tremendous blow,
'I'll inflict personal chastisement on him, in addition to the exposure
he so richly merits. I will, or my name is not Pickwick.'

'And venever I catches hold o' that there melan-cholly chap with the
black hair,' said Sam, 'if I don't bring some real water into his eyes,
for once in a way, my name ain't Weller. Good-night, Sir!'



CHAPTER XVII. SHOWING THAT AN ATTACK OF RHEUMATISM, IN SOME CASES, ACTS
AS A QUICKENER TO INVENTIVE GENIUS


The constitution of Mr. Pickwick, though able to sustain a very
considerable amount of exertion and fatigue, was not proof against such
a combination of attacks as he had undergone on the memorable night,
recorded in the last chapter. The process of being washed in the night
air, and rough-dried in a closet, is as dangerous as it is peculiar. Mr.
Pickwick was laid up with an attack of rheumatism.

But although the bodily powers of the great man were thus impaired,
his mental energies retained their pristine vigour. His spirits were
elastic; his good-humour was restored. Even the vexation consequent upon
his recent adventure had vanished from his mind; and he could join in
the hearty laughter, which any allusion to it excited in Mr. Wardle,
without anger and without embarrassment. Nay, more. During the two days
Mr. Pickwick was confined to bed, Sam was his constant attendant. On the
first, he endeavoured to amuse his master by anecdote and conversation;
on the second, Mr. Pickwick demanded his writing-desk, and pen and ink,
and was deeply engaged during the whole day. On the third, being able to
sit up in his bedchamber, he despatched his valet with a message to Mr.
Wardle and Mr. Trundle, intimating that if they would take their wine
there, that evening, they would greatly oblige him. The invitation was
most willingly accepted; and when they were seated over their wine, Mr.
Pickwick, with sundry blushes, produced the following little tale, as
having been 'edited' by himself, during his recent indisposition, from
his notes of Mr. Weller's unsophisticated recital.


  THE PARISH CLERK
  A TALE OF TRUE LOVE

'Once upon a time, in a very small country town, at a considerable
distance from London, there lived a little man named Nathaniel Pipkin,
who was the parish clerk of the little town, and lived in a little house
in the little High Street, within ten minutes' walk from the little
church; and who was to be found every day, from nine till four, teaching
a little learning to the little boys. Nathaniel Pipkin was a harmless,
inoffensive, good-natured being, with a turned-up nose, and rather
turned-in legs, a cast in his eye, and a halt in his gait; and he
divided his time between the church and his school, verily believing
that there existed not, on the face of the earth, so clever a man as the
curate, so imposing an apartment as the vestry-room, or so well-ordered
a seminary as his own. Once, and only once, in his life, Nathaniel
Pipkin had seen a bishop--a real bishop, with his arms in lawn sleeves,
and his head in a wig. He had seen him walk, and heard him talk, at
a confirmation, on which momentous occasion Nathaniel Pipkin was so
overcome with reverence and awe, when the aforesaid bishop laid his
hand on his head, that he fainted right clean away, and was borne out of
church in the arms of the beadle.

'This was a great event, a tremendous era, in Nathaniel Pipkin's life,
and it was the only one that had ever occurred to ruffle the smooth
current of his quiet existence, when happening one fine afternoon, in a
fit of mental abstraction, to raise his eyes from the slate on which
he was devising some tremendous problem in compound addition for
an offending urchin to solve, they suddenly rested on the blooming
countenance of Maria Lobbs, the only daughter of old Lobbs, the great
saddler over the way. Now, the eyes of Mr. Pipkin had rested on the
pretty face of Maria Lobbs many a time and oft before, at church and
elsewhere; but the eyes of Maria Lobbs had never looked so bright, the
cheeks of Maria Lobbs had never looked so ruddy, as upon this particular
occasion. No wonder then, that Nathaniel Pipkin was unable to take his
eyes from the countenance of Miss Lobbs; no wonder that Miss Lobbs,
finding herself stared at by a young man, withdrew her head from the
window out of which she had been peeping, and shut the casement and
pulled down the blind; no wonder that Nathaniel Pipkin, immediately
thereafter, fell upon the young urchin who had previously offended, and
cuffed and knocked him about to his heart's content. All this was very
natural, and there's nothing at all to wonder at about it.

'It IS matter of wonder, though, that anyone of Mr. Nathaniel Pipkin's
retiring disposition, nervous temperament, and most particularly
diminutive income, should from this day forth, have dared to aspire to
the hand and heart of the only daughter of the fiery old Lobbs--of old
Lobbs, the great saddler, who could have bought up the whole village
at one stroke of his pen, and never felt the outlay--old Lobbs, who was
well known to have heaps of money, invested in the bank at the nearest
market town--who was reported to have countless and inexhaustible
treasures hoarded up in the little iron safe with the big keyhole, over
the chimney-piece in the back parlour--and who, it was well known,
on festive occasions garnished his board with a real silver teapot,
cream-ewer, and sugar-basin, which he was wont, in the pride of his
heart, to boast should be his daughter's property when she found a man
to her mind. I repeat it, to be matter of profound astonishment and
intense wonder, that Nathaniel Pipkin should have had the temerity to
cast his eyes in this direction. But love is blind; and Nathaniel had
a cast in his eye; and perhaps these two circumstances, taken together,
prevented his seeing the matter in its proper light.

'Now, if old Lobbs had entertained the most remote or distant idea of
the state of the affections of Nathaniel Pipkin, he would just have
razed the school-room to the ground, or exterminated its master from the
surface of the earth, or committed some other outrage and atrocity of
an equally ferocious and violent description; for he was a terrible
old fellow, was Lobbs, when his pride was injured, or his blood was up.
Swear! Such trains of oaths would come rolling and pealing over the way,
sometimes, when he was denouncing the idleness of the bony apprentice
with the thin legs, that Nathaniel Pipkin would shake in his shoes
with horror, and the hair of the pupils' heads would stand on end with
fright.

'Well! Day after day, when school was over, and the pupils gone, did
Nathaniel Pipkin sit himself down at the front window, and, while he
feigned to be reading a book, throw sidelong glances over the way in
search of the bright eyes of Maria Lobbs; and he hadn't sat there many
days, before the bright eyes appeared at an upper window, apparently
deeply engaged in reading too. This was delightful, and gladdening to
the heart of Nathaniel Pipkin. It was something to sit there for hours
together, and look upon that pretty face when the eyes were cast down;
but when Maria Lobbs began to raise her eyes from her book, and dart
their rays in the direction of Nathaniel Pipkin, his delight and
admiration were perfectly boundless. At last, one day when he knew old
Lobbs was out, Nathaniel Pipkin had the temerity to kiss his hand
to Maria Lobbs; and Maria Lobbs, instead of shutting the window, and
pulling down the blind, kissed HERS to him, and smiled. Upon which
Nathaniel Pipkin determined, that, come what might, he would develop the
state of his feelings, without further delay.

'A prettier foot, a gayer heart, a more dimpled face, or a smarter form,
never bounded so lightly over the earth they graced, as did those of
Maria Lobbs, the old saddler's daughter. There was a roguish twinkle in
her sparkling eyes, that would have made its way to far less susceptible
bosoms than that of Nathaniel Pipkin; and there was such a joyous sound
in her merry laugh, that the sternest misanthrope must have smiled to
hear it. Even old Lobbs himself, in the very height of his ferocity,
couldn't resist the coaxing of his pretty daughter; and when she,
and her cousin Kate--an arch, impudent-looking, bewitching little
person--made a dead set upon the old man together, as, to say the truth,
they very often did, he could have refused them nothing, even had they
asked for a portion of the countless and inexhaustible treasures, which
were hidden from the light, in the iron safe.

'Nathaniel Pipkin's heart beat high within him, when he saw this
enticing little couple some hundred yards before him one summer's
evening, in the very field in which he had many a time strolled about
till night-time, and pondered on the beauty of Maria Lobbs. But though
he had often thought then, how briskly he would walk up to Maria Lobbs
and tell her of his passion if he could only meet her, he felt, now that
she was unexpectedly before him, all the blood in his body mounting to
his face, manifestly to the great detriment of his legs, which, deprived
of their usual portion, trembled beneath him. When they stopped to
gather a hedge flower, or listen to a bird, Nathaniel Pipkin stopped
too, and pretended to be absorbed in meditation, as indeed he really
was; for he was thinking what on earth he should ever do, when they
turned back, as they inevitably must in time, and meet him face to face.
But though he was afraid to make up to them, he couldn't bear to lose
sight of them; so when they walked faster he walked faster, when they
lingered he lingered, and when they stopped he stopped; and so they
might have gone on, until the darkness prevented them, if Kate had not
looked slyly back, and encouragingly beckoned Nathaniel to advance.
There was something in Kate's manner that was not to be resisted, and so
Nathaniel Pipkin complied with the invitation; and after a great deal
of blushing on his part, and immoderate laughter on that of the wicked
little cousin, Nathaniel Pipkin went down on his knees on the dewy
grass, and declared his resolution to remain there for ever, unless he
were permitted to rise the accepted lover of Maria Lobbs. Upon this, the
merry laughter of Miss Lobbs rang through the calm evening air--without
seeming to disturb it, though; it had such a pleasant sound--and
the wicked little cousin laughed more immoderately than before, and
Nathaniel Pipkin blushed deeper than ever. At length, Maria Lobbs being
more strenuously urged by the love-worn little man, turned away her
head, and whispered her cousin to say, or at all events Kate did say,
that she felt much honoured by Mr. Pipkin's addresses; that her hand and
heart were at her father's disposal; but that nobody could be insensible
to Mr. Pipkin's merits. As all this was said with much gravity, and as
Nathaniel Pipkin walked home with Maria Lobbs, and struggled for a kiss
at parting, he went to bed a happy man, and dreamed all night long, of
softening old Lobbs, opening the strong box, and marrying Maria.

The next day, Nathaniel Pipkin saw old Lobbs go out upon his old gray
pony, and after a great many signs at the window from the wicked little
cousin, the object and meaning of which he could by no means understand,
the bony apprentice with the thin legs came over to say that his master
wasn't coming home all night, and that the ladies expected Mr. Pipkin
to tea, at six o'clock precisely. How the lessons were got through that
day, neither Nathaniel Pipkin nor his pupils knew any more than you
do; but they were got through somehow, and, after the boys had gone,
Nathaniel Pipkin took till full six o'clock to dress himself to his
satisfaction. Not that it took long to select the garments he should
wear, inasmuch as he had no choice about the matter; but the putting of
them on to the best advantage, and the touching of them up previously,
was a task of no inconsiderable difficulty or importance.

'There was a very snug little party, consisting of Maria Lobbs and her
cousin Kate, and three or four romping, good-humoured, rosy-cheeked
girls. Nathaniel Pipkin had ocular demonstration of the fact, that the
rumours of old Lobbs's treasures were not exaggerated. There were the
real solid silver teapot, cream-ewer, and sugar-basin, on the table, and
real silver spoons to stir the tea with, and real china cups to drink it
out of, and plates of the same, to hold the cakes and toast in. The only
eye-sore in the whole place was another cousin of Maria Lobbs's, and a
brother of Kate, whom Maria Lobbs called "Henry," and who seemed to
keep Maria Lobbs all to himself, up in one corner of the table. It's
a delightful thing to see affection in families, but it may be carried
rather too far, and Nathaniel Pipkin could not help thinking that Maria
Lobbs must be very particularly fond of her relations, if she paid as
much attention to all of them as to this individual cousin. After tea,
too, when the wicked little cousin proposed a game at blind man's buff,
it somehow or other happened that Nathaniel Pipkin was nearly always
blind, and whenever he laid his hand upon the male cousin, he was sure
to find that Maria Lobbs was not far off. And though the wicked little
cousin and the other girls pinched him, and pulled his hair, and pushed
chairs in his way, and all sorts of things, Maria Lobbs never seemed to
come near him at all; and once--once--Nathaniel Pipkin could have sworn
he heard the sound of a kiss, followed by a faint remonstrance from
Maria Lobbs, and a half-suppressed laugh from her female friends. All
this was odd--very odd--and there is no saying what Nathaniel Pipkin
might or might not have done, in consequence, if his thoughts had not
been suddenly directed into a new channel.

'The circumstance which directed his thoughts into a new channel was
a loud knocking at the street door, and the person who made this loud
knocking at the street door was no other than old Lobbs himself, who had
unexpectedly returned, and was hammering away, like a coffin-maker;
for he wanted his supper. The alarming intelligence was no sooner
communicated by the bony apprentice with the thin legs, than the girls
tripped upstairs to Maria Lobbs's bedroom, and the male cousin
and Nathaniel Pipkin were thrust into a couple of closets in the
sitting-room, for want of any better places of concealment; and when
Maria Lobbs and the wicked little cousin had stowed them away, and put
the room to rights, they opened the street door to old Lobbs, who had
never left off knocking since he first began.

'Now it did unfortunately happen that old Lobbs being very hungry was
monstrous cross. Nathaniel Pipkin could hear him growling away like an
old mastiff with a sore throat; and whenever the unfortunate apprentice
with the thin legs came into the room, so surely did old Lobbs commence
swearing at him in a most Saracenic and ferocious manner, though
apparently with no other end or object than that of easing his bosom by
the discharge of a few superfluous oaths. At length some supper, which
had been warming up, was placed on the table, and then old Lobbs fell
to, in regular style; and having made clear work of it in no time,
kissed his daughter, and demanded his pipe.

'Nature had placed Nathaniel Pipkin's knees in very close juxtaposition,
but when he heard old Lobbs demand his pipe, they knocked together, as
if they were going to reduce each other to powder; for, depending from
a couple of hooks, in the very closet in which he stood, was a large,
brown-stemmed, silver-bowled pipe, which pipe he himself had seen in the
mouth of old Lobbs, regularly every afternoon and evening, for the last
five years. The two girls went downstairs for the pipe, and upstairs for
the pipe, and everywhere but where they knew the pipe was, and old Lobbs
stormed away meanwhile, in the most wonderful manner. At last he thought
of the closet, and walked up to it. It was of no use a little man like
Nathaniel Pipkin pulling the door inwards, when a great strong fellow
like old Lobbs was pulling it outwards. Old Lobbs gave it one tug, and
open it flew, disclosing Nathaniel Pipkin standing bolt upright inside,
and shaking with apprehension from head to foot. Bless us! what an
appalling look old Lobbs gave him, as he dragged him out by the collar,
and held him at arm's length.

'"Why, what the devil do you want here?" said old Lobbs, in a fearful
voice.

'Nathaniel Pipkin could make no reply, so old Lobbs shook him backwards
and forwards, for two or three minutes, by way of arranging his ideas
for him.

'"What do you want here?" roared Lobbs; "I suppose you have come after
my daughter, now!"

'Old Lobbs merely said this as a sneer: for he did not believe that
mortal presumption could have carried Nathaniel Pipkin so far. What was
his indignation, when that poor man replied--'"Yes, I did, Mr. Lobbs, I
did come after your daughter. I love her, Mr. Lobbs."

'"Why, you snivelling, wry-faced, puny villain," gasped old Lobbs,
paralysed by the atrocious confession; "what do you mean by that? Say
this to my face! Damme, I'll throttle you!"

'It is by no means improbable that old Lobbs would have carried his
threat into execution, in the excess of his rage, if his arm had not
been stayed by a very unexpected apparition: to wit, the male cousin,
who, stepping out of his closet, and walking up to old Lobbs, said--

'"I cannot allow this harmless person, Sir, who has been asked here, in
some girlish frolic, to take upon himself, in a very noble manner, the
fault (if fault it is) which I am guilty of, and am ready to avow. I
love your daughter, sir; and I came here for the purpose of meeting
her."

'Old Lobbs opened his eyes very wide at this, but not wider than
Nathaniel Pipkin.

'"You did?" said Lobbs, at last finding breath to speak.

'"I did."

'"And I forbade you this house, long ago."

'"You did, or I should not have been here, clandestinely, to-night."

'I am sorry to record it of old Lobbs, but I think he would have struck
the cousin, if his pretty daughter, with her bright eyes swimming in
tears, had not clung to his arm.

'"Don't stop him, Maria," said the young man; "if he has the will to
strike me, let him. I would not hurt a hair of his gray head, for the
riches of the world."

'The old man cast down his eyes at this reproof, and they met those of
his daughter. I have hinted once or twice before, that they were very
bright eyes, and, though they were tearful now, their influence was by
no means lessened. Old Lobbs turned his head away, as if to avoid being
persuaded by them, when, as fortune would have it, he encountered the
face of the wicked little cousin, who, half afraid for her brother, and
half laughing at Nathaniel Pipkin, presented as bewitching an expression
of countenance, with a touch of slyness in it, too, as any man, old or
young, need look upon. She drew her arm coaxingly through the old man's,
and whispered something in his ear; and do what he would, old Lobbs
couldn't help breaking out into a smile, while a tear stole down his
cheek at the same time. 'Five minutes after this, the girls were brought
down from the bedroom with a great deal of giggling and modesty; and
while the young people were making themselves perfectly happy, old Lobbs
got down the pipe, and smoked it; and it was a remarkable circumstance
about that particular pipe of tobacco, that it was the most soothing and
delightful one he ever smoked.

'Nathaniel Pipkin thought it best to keep his own counsel, and by so
doing gradually rose into high favour with old Lobbs, who taught him
to smoke in time; and they used to sit out in the garden on the fine
evenings, for many years afterwards, smoking and drinking in great
state. He soon recovered the effects of his attachment, for we find his
name in the parish register, as a witness to the marriage of Maria Lobbs
to her cousin; and it also appears, by reference to other documents,
that on the night of the wedding he was incarcerated in the village
cage, for having, in a state of extreme intoxication, committed sundry
excesses in the streets, in all of which he was aided and abetted by the
bony apprentice with the thin legs.'



CHAPTER XVIII. BRIEFLY ILLUSTRATIVE OF TWO POINTS; FIRST, THE POWER OF
HYSTERICS, AND, SECONDLY, THE FORCE OF CIRCUMSTANCES


For two days after the DEJEUNE at Mrs. Hunter's, the Pickwickians
remained at Eatanswill, anxiously awaiting the arrival of some
intelligence from their revered leader. Mr. Tupman and Mr. Snodgrass
were once again left to their own means of amusement; for Mr. Winkle, in
compliance with a most pressing invitation, continued to reside at Mr.
Pott's house, and to devote his time to the companionship of his amiable
lady. Nor was the occasional society of Mr. Pott himself wanting
to complete their felicity. Deeply immersed in the intensity of his
speculations for the public weal and the destruction of the INDEPENDENT,
it was not the habit of that great man to descend from his mental
pinnacle to the humble level of ordinary minds. On this occasion,
however, and as if expressly in compliment to any follower of Mr.
Pickwick's, he unbent, relaxed, stepped down from his pedestal,
and walked upon the ground, benignly adapting his remarks to the
comprehension of the herd, and seeming in outward form, if not in
spirit, to be one of them.

Such having been the demeanour of this celebrated public character
towards Mr. Winkle, it will be readily imagined that considerable
surprise was depicted on the countenance of the latter gentleman, when,
as he was sitting alone in the breakfast-room, the door was hastily
thrown open, and as hastily closed, on the entrance of Mr. Pott, who,
stalking majestically towards him, and thrusting aside his proffered
hand, ground his teeth, as if to put a sharper edge on what he was about
to utter, and exclaimed, in a saw-like voice--

'Serpent!'

'Sir!' exclaimed Mr. Winkle, starting from his chair.

'Serpent, Sir,' repeated Mr. Pott, raising his voice, and then suddenly
depressing it: 'I said, serpent, sir--make the most of it.'

When you have parted with a man at two o'clock in the morning, on terms
of the utmost good-fellowship, and he meets you again, at half-past
nine, and greets you as a serpent, it is not unreasonable to conclude
that something of an unpleasant nature has occurred meanwhile. So Mr.
Winkle thought. He returned Mr. Pott's gaze of stone, and in compliance
with that gentleman's request, proceeded to make the most he could
of the 'serpent.' The most, however, was nothing at all; so, after a
profound silence of some minutes' duration, he said,--

'Serpent, Sir! Serpent, Mr. Pott! What can you mean, Sir?--this is
pleasantry.'

'Pleasantry, sir!' exclaimed Pott, with a motion of the hand, indicative
of a strong desire to hurl the Britannia metal teapot at the head of
the visitor. 'Pleasantry, sir!--But--no, I will be calm; I will be calm,
Sir;' in proof of his calmness, Mr. Pott flung himself into a chair, and
foamed at the mouth.

'My dear sir,' interposed Mr. Winkle.

'DEAR Sir!' replied Pott. 'How dare you address me, as dear Sir, Sir?
How dare you look me in the face and do it, sir?'

'Well, Sir, if you come to that,' responded Mr. Winkle, 'how dare you
look me in the face, and call me a serpent, sir?'

'Because you are one,' replied Mr. Pott.

'Prove it, Sir,' said Mr. Winkle warmly. 'Prove it.'

A malignant scowl passed over the profound face of the editor, as he
drew from his pocket the INDEPENDENT of that morning; and laying his
finger on a particular paragraph, threw the journal across the table to
Mr. Winkle.

That gentleman took it up, and read as follows:--


'Our obscure and filthy contemporary, in some disgusting observations
on the recent election for this borough, has presumed to violate the
hallowed sanctity of private life, and to refer in a manner not to be
misunderstood, to the personal affairs of our late candidate--aye, and
notwithstanding his base defeat, we will add, our future member, Mr.
Fizkin. What does our dastardly contemporary mean? What would the
ruffian say, if we, setting at naught, like him, the decencies of
social intercourse, were to raise the curtain which happily conceals His
private life from general ridicule, not to say from general execration?
What, if we were even to point out, and comment on, facts and
circumstances, which are publicly notorious, and beheld by every one
but our mole-eyed contemporary--what if we were to print the following
effusion, which we received while we were writing the commencement of
this article, from a talented fellow-townsman and correspondent?

     '"LINES TO A BRASS POT

   '"Oh Pott! if you'd known
   How false she'd have grown,
   When you heard the marriage bells tinkle;
   You'd have done then, I vow,
   What you cannot help now,
   And handed her over to W*****"'


'What,' said Mr. Pott solemnly--'what rhymes to "tinkle," villain?'

'What rhymes to tinkle?' said Mrs. Pott, whose entrance at the moment
forestalled the reply. 'What rhymes to tinkle? Why, Winkle, I should
conceive.' Saying this, Mrs. Pott smiled sweetly on the disturbed
Pickwickian, and extended her hand towards him. The agitated young
man would have accepted it, in his confusion, had not Pott indignantly
interposed.

'Back, ma'am--back!' said the editor. 'Take his hand before my very
face!'

'Mr. P.!' said his astonished lady.

'Wretched woman, look here,' exclaimed the husband. 'Look here,
ma'am--"Lines to a Brass Pot." "Brass Pot"; that's me, ma'am. "False
SHE'D have grown"; that's you, ma'am--you.' With this ebullition of
rage, which was not unaccompanied with something like a tremble, at the
expression of his wife's face, Mr. Pott dashed the current number of the
Eatanswill INDEPENDENT at her feet.

'Upon my word, Sir,' said the astonished Mrs. Pott, stooping to pick up
the paper. 'Upon my word, Sir!'

Mr. Pott winced beneath the contemptuous gaze of his wife. He had made
a desperate struggle to screw up his courage, but it was fast coming
unscrewed again.

There appears nothing very tremendous in this little sentence, 'Upon my
word, sir,' when it comes to be read; but the tone of voice in which it
was delivered, and the look that accompanied it, both seeming to bear
reference to some revenge to be thereafter visited upon the head of
Pott, produced their effect upon him. The most unskilful observer could
have detected in his troubled countenance, a readiness to resign his
Wellington boots to any efficient substitute who would have consented to
stand in them at that moment.

Mrs. Pott read the paragraph, uttered a loud shriek, and threw herself
at full length on the hearth-rug, screaming, and tapping it with the
heels of her shoes, in a manner which could leave no doubt of the
propriety of her feelings on the occasion.

'My dear,' said the terrified Pott, 'I didn't say I believed it;--I--'
but the unfortunate man's voice was drowned in the screaming of his
partner.

'Mrs. Pott, let me entreat you, my dear ma'am, to compose yourself,'
said Mr. Winkle; but the shrieks and tappings were louder, and more
frequent than ever.

'My dear,' said Mr. Pott, 'I'm very sorry. If you won't consider your
own health, consider me, my dear. We shall have a crowd round the
house.' But the more strenuously Mr. Pott entreated, the more vehemently
the screams poured forth.

Very fortunately, however, attached to Mrs. Pott's person was a
bodyguard of one, a young lady whose ostensible employment was to
preside over her toilet, but who rendered herself useful in a variety
of ways, and in none more so than in the particular department
of constantly aiding and abetting her mistress in every wish and
inclination opposed to the desires of the unhappy Pott. The screams
reached this young lady's ears in due course, and brought her into the
room with a speed which threatened to derange, materially, the very
exquisite arrangement of her cap and ringlets.

'Oh, my dear, dear mistress!' exclaimed the bodyguard, kneeling
frantically by the side of the prostrate Mrs. Pott. 'Oh, my dear
mistress, what is the matter?'

'Your master--your brutal master,' murmured the patient.

Pott was evidently giving way.

'It's a shame,' said the bodyguard reproachfully. 'I know he'll be the
death on you, ma'am. Poor dear thing!'

He gave way more. The opposite party followed up the attack.

'Oh, don't leave me--don't leave me, Goodwin,' murmured Mrs. Pott,
clutching at the wrist of the said Goodwin with an hysteric jerk.
'You're the only person that's kind to me, Goodwin.'

At this affecting appeal, Goodwin got up a little domestic tragedy of
her own, and shed tears copiously.

'Never, ma'am--never,' said Goodwin.'Oh, sir, you should be careful--you
should indeed; you don't know what harm you may do missis; you'll be
sorry for it one day, I know--I've always said so.'

The unlucky Pott looked timidly on, but said nothing.

'Goodwin,' said Mrs. Pott, in a soft voice.

'Ma'am,' said Goodwin.

'If you only knew how I have loved that man--' 'Don't distress yourself
by recollecting it, ma'am,' said the bodyguard.

Pott looked very frightened. It was time to finish him.

'And now,' sobbed Mrs. Pott, 'now, after all, to be treated in this way;
to be reproached and insulted in the presence of a third party, and
that party almost a stranger. But I will not submit to it! Goodwin,'
continued Mrs. Pott, raising herself in the arms of her attendant, 'my
brother, the lieutenant, shall interfere. I'll be separated, Goodwin!'

'It would certainly serve him right, ma'am,' said Goodwin.

Whatever thoughts the threat of a separation might have awakened in Mr.
Pott's mind, he forbore to give utterance to them, and contented himself
by saying, with great humility:--

'My dear, will you hear me?'

A fresh train of sobs was the only reply, as Mrs. Pott grew more
hysterical, requested to be informed why she was ever born, and required
sundry other pieces of information of a similar description.

'My dear,' remonstrated Mr. Pott, 'do not give way to these sensitive
feelings. I never believed that the paragraph had any foundation, my
dear--impossible. I was only angry, my dear--I may say outrageous--with
the INDEPENDENT people for daring to insert it; that's all.' Mr. Pott
cast an imploring look at the innocent cause of the mischief, as if to
entreat him to say nothing about the serpent.

'And what steps, sir, do you mean to take to obtain redress?' inquired
Mr. Winkle, gaining courage as he saw Pott losing it.

'Oh, Goodwin,' observed Mrs. Pott, 'does he mean to horsewhip the editor
of the INDEPENDENT--does he, Goodwin?'

'Hush, hush, ma'am; pray keep yourself quiet,' replied the bodyguard. 'I
dare say he will, if you wish it, ma'am.'

'Certainly,' said Pott, as his wife evinced decided symptoms of going
off again. 'Of course I shall.'

'When, Goodwin--when?' said Mrs. Pott, still undecided about the going
off.

'Immediately, of course,' said Mr. Pott; 'before the day is out.'

'Oh, Goodwin,' resumed Mrs. Pott, 'it's the only way of meeting the
slander, and setting me right with the world.'

'Certainly, ma'am,' replied Goodwin. 'No man as is a man, ma'am, could
refuse to do it.'

So, as the hysterics were still hovering about, Mr. Pott said once more
that he would do it; but Mrs. Pott was so overcome at the bare idea of
having ever been suspected, that she was half a dozen times on the very
verge of a relapse, and most unquestionably would have gone off, had
it not been for the indefatigable efforts of the assiduous Goodwin, and
repeated entreaties for pardon from the conquered Pott; and finally,
when that unhappy individual had been frightened and snubbed down to his
proper level, Mrs. Pott recovered, and they went to breakfast.

'You will not allow this base newspaper slander to shorten your stay
here, Mr. Winkle?' said Mrs. Pott, smiling through the traces of her
tears.

'I hope not,' said Mr. Pott, actuated, as he spoke, by a wish that his
visitor would choke himself with the morsel of dry toast which he
was raising to his lips at the moment, and so terminate his stay
effectually.

'I hope not.'

'You are very good,' said Mr. Winkle; 'but a letter has been received
from Mr. Pickwick--so I learn by a note from Mr. Tupman, which was
brought up to my bedroom door, this morning--in which he requests us to
join him at Bury to-day; and we are to leave by the coach at noon.'

'But you will come back?' said Mrs. Pott.

'Oh, certainly,' replied Mr. Winkle.

'You are quite sure?' said Mrs. Pott, stealing a tender look at her
visitor.

'Quite,' responded Mr. Winkle.

The breakfast passed off in silence, for each of the party was brooding
over his, or her, own personal grievances. Mrs. Pott was regretting the
loss of a beau; Mr. Pott his rash pledge to horsewhip the INDEPENDENT;
Mr. Winkle his having innocently placed himself in so awkward a
situation. Noon approached, and after many adieux and promises to
return, he tore himself away.

'If he ever comes back, I'll poison him,' thought Mr. Pott, as he turned
into the little back office where he prepared his thunderbolts.

'If I ever do come back, and mix myself up with these people
again,'thought Mr. Winkle, as he wended his way to the Peacock, 'I shall
deserve to be horsewhipped myself--that's all.'

His friends were ready, the coach was nearly so, and in half an hour
they were proceeding on their journey, along the road over which Mr.
Pickwick and Sam had so recently travelled, and of which, as we have
already said something, we do not feel called upon to extract Mr.
Snodgrass's poetical and beautiful description.

Mr. Weller was standing at the door of the Angel, ready to receive
them, and by that gentleman they were ushered to the apartment of
Mr. Pickwick, where, to the no small surprise of Mr. Winkle and Mr.
Snodgrass, and the no small embarrassment of Mr. Tupman, they found old
Wardle and Trundle.

'How are you?' said the old man, grasping Mr. Tupman's hand. 'Don't hang
back, or look sentimental about it; it can't be helped, old fellow. For
her sake, I wish you'd had her; for your own, I'm very glad you have
not. A young fellow like you will do better one of these days, eh?'
With this conclusion, Wardle slapped Mr. Tupman on the back, and laughed
heartily.

'Well, and how are you, my fine fellows?' said the old gentleman,
shaking hands with Mr. Winkle and Mr. Snodgrass at the same time.
'I have just been telling Pickwick that we must have you all down at
Christmas. We're going to have a wedding--a real wedding this time.'

'A wedding!' exclaimed Mr. Snodgrass, turning very pale.

'Yes, a wedding. But don't be frightened,' said the good-humoured old
man; 'it's only Trundle there, and Bella.'

'Oh, is that all?' said Mr. Snodgrass, relieved from a painful doubt
which had fallen heavily on his breast. 'Give you joy, Sir. How is Joe?'

'Very well,' replied the old gentleman. 'Sleepy as ever.'

'And your mother, and the clergyman, and all of 'em?'

'Quite well.'

'Where,' said Mr. Tupman, with an effort--'where is--SHE, Sir?' and he
turned away his head, and covered his eyes with his hand. 'SHE!' said
the old gentleman, with a knowing shake of the head. 'Do you mean my
single relative--eh?'

Mr. Tupman, by a nod, intimated that his question applied to the
disappointed Rachael.

'Oh, she's gone away,' said the old gentleman. 'She's living at a
relation's, far enough off. She couldn't bear to see the girls, so I let
her go. But come! Here's the dinner. You must be hungry after your ride.
I am, without any ride at all; so let us fall to.'

Ample justice was done to the meal; and when they were seated round
the table, after it had been disposed of, Mr. Pickwick, to the intense
horror and indignation of his followers, related the adventure he had
undergone, and the success which had attended the base artifices of the
diabolical Jingle. 'And the attack of rheumatism which I caught in that
garden,' said Mr. Pickwick, in conclusion, 'renders me lame at this
moment.'

'I, too, have had something of an adventure,' said Mr. Winkle, with a
smile; and, at the request of Mr. Pickwick, he detailed the malicious
libel of the Eatanswill INDEPENDENT, and the consequent excitement of
their friend, the editor.

Mr. Pickwick's brow darkened during the recital. His friends observed
it, and, when Mr. Winkle had concluded, maintained a profound silence.
Mr. Pickwick struck the table emphatically with his clenched fist, and
spoke as follows:--

'Is it not a wonderful circumstance,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'that we seem
destined to enter no man's house without involving him in some degree
of trouble? Does it not, I ask, bespeak the indiscretion, or, worse than
that, the blackness of heart--that I should say so!--of my followers,
that, beneath whatever roof they locate, they disturb the peace of mind
and happiness of some confiding female? Is it not, I say--'

Mr. Pickwick would in all probability have gone on for some time, had
not the entrance of Sam, with a letter, caused him to break off in his
eloquent discourse. He passed his handkerchief across his forehead, took
off his spectacles, wiped them, and put them on again; and his voice had
recovered its wonted softness of tone when he said--

'What have you there, Sam?'

'Called at the post-office just now, and found this here letter, as has
laid there for two days,' replied Mr. Weller. 'It's sealed vith a vafer,
and directed in round hand.'

'I don't know this hand,' said Mr. Pickwick, opening the letter. 'Mercy
on us! what's this? It must be a jest; it--it--can't be true.'

'What's the matter?' was the general inquiry.

'Nobody dead, is there?' said Wardle, alarmed at the horror in Mr.
Pickwick's countenance.

Mr. Pickwick made no reply, but, pushing the letter across the table,
and desiring Mr. Tupman to read it aloud, fell back in his chair with a
look of vacant astonishment quite alarming to behold.

Mr. Tupman, with a trembling voice, read the letter, of which the
following is a copy:--


Freeman's Court, Cornhill, August 28th, 1827.

Bardell against Pickwick.

Sir,

Having been instructed by Mrs. Martha Bardell to commence an action
against you for a breach of promise of marriage, for which the plaintiff
lays her damages at fifteen hundred pounds, we beg to inform you that
a writ has been issued against you in this suit in the Court of Common
Pleas; and request to know, by return of post, the name of your attorney
in London, who will accept service thereof.

We are, Sir, Your obedient servants, Dodson & Fogg.

Mr. Samuel Pickwick.


There was something so impressive in the mute astonishment with which
each man regarded his neighbour, and every man regarded Mr. Pickwick,
that all seemed afraid to speak. The silence was at length broken by Mr.
Tupman.

'Dodson and Fogg,' he repeated mechanically.

'Bardell and Pickwick,' said Mr. Snodgrass, musing.

'Peace of mind and happiness of confiding females,' murmured Mr. Winkle,
with an air of abstraction.

'It's a conspiracy,' said Mr. Pickwick, at length recovering the power
of speech; 'a base conspiracy between these two grasping attorneys,
Dodson and Fogg. Mrs. Bardell would never do it;--she hasn't the heart
to do it;--she hasn't the case to do it. Ridiculous--ridiculous.' 'Of
her heart,' said Wardle, with a smile, 'you should certainly be the best
judge. I don't wish to discourage you, but I should certainly say that,
of her case, Dodson and Fogg are far better judges than any of us can
be.'

'It's a vile attempt to extort money,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'I hope it is,' said Wardle, with a short, dry cough.

'Who ever heard me address her in any way but that in which a lodger
would address his landlady?' continued Mr. Pickwick, with great
vehemence. 'Who ever saw me with her? Not even my friends here--'

'Except on one occasion,' said Mr. Tupman.

Mr. Pickwick changed colour. 'Ah,' said Mr. Wardle. 'Well, that's
important. There was nothing suspicious then, I suppose?'

Mr. Tupman glanced timidly at his leader. 'Why,' said he, 'there
was nothing suspicious; but--I don't know how it happened, mind--she
certainly was reclining in his arms.'

'Gracious powers!' ejaculated Mr. Pickwick, as the recollection of the
scene in question struck forcibly upon him; 'what a dreadful instance of
the force of circumstances! So she was--so she was.'

'And our friend was soothing her anguish,' said Mr. Winkle, rather
maliciously.

'So I was,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'I don't deny it. So I was.'

'Hollo!' said Wardle; 'for a case in which there's nothing suspicious,
this looks rather queer--eh, Pickwick? Ah, sly dog--sly dog!' and he
laughed till the glasses on the sideboard rang again.

'What a dreadful conjunction of appearances!' exclaimed Mr. Pickwick,
resting his chin upon his hands. 'Winkle--Tupman--I beg your pardon
for the observations I made just now. We are all the victims of
circumstances, and I the greatest.' With this apology Mr. Pickwick
buried his head in his hands, and ruminated; while Wardle measured out a
regular circle of nods and winks, addressed to the other members of the
company.

'I'll have it explained, though,' said Mr. Pickwick, raising his head
and hammering the table. 'I'll see this Dodson and Fogg! I'll go to
London to-morrow.'

'Not to-morrow,' said Wardle; 'you're too lame.'

'Well, then, next day.'

'Next day is the first of September, and you're pledged to ride out with
us, as far as Sir Geoffrey Manning's grounds at all events, and to meet
us at lunch, if you don't take the field.'

'Well, then, the day after,' said Mr. Pickwick; 'Thursday.--Sam!'

'Sir,' replied Mr. Weller.

'Take two places outside to London, on Thursday morning, for yourself
and me.'

'Wery well, Sir.'

Mr. Weller left the room, and departed slowly on his errand, with his
hands in his pocket and his eyes fixed on the ground.

'Rum feller, the hemperor,' said Mr. Weller, as he walked slowly up the
street. 'Think o' his makin' up to that 'ere Mrs. Bardell--vith a little
boy, too! Always the vay vith these here old 'uns howsoever, as is such
steady goers to look at. I didn't think he'd ha' done it, though--I
didn't think he'd ha' done it!' Moralising in this strain, Mr. Samuel
Weller bent his steps towards the booking-office.



CHAPTER XIX. A PLEASANT DAY WITH AN UNPLEASANT TERMINATION


The birds, who, happily for their own peace of mind and personal
comfort, were in blissful ignorance of the preparations which had been
making to astonish them, on the first of September, hailed it, no doubt,
as one of the pleasantest mornings they had seen that season. Many a
young partridge who strutted complacently among the stubble, with all
the finicking coxcombry of youth, and many an older one who watched his
levity out of his little round eye, with the contemptuous air of a bird
of wisdom and experience, alike unconscious of their approaching doom,
basked in the fresh morning air with lively and blithesome feelings,
and a few hours afterwards were laid low upon the earth. But we grow
affecting: let us proceed.

In plain commonplace matter-of-fact, then, it was a fine morning--so
fine that you would scarcely have believed that the few months of an
English summer had yet flown by. Hedges, fields, and trees, hill and
moorland, presented to the eye their ever-varying shades of deep rich
green; scarce a leaf had fallen, scarce a sprinkle of yellow mingled
with the hues of summer, warned you that autumn had begun. The sky was
cloudless; the sun shone out bright and warm; the songs of birds,
the hum of myriads of summer insects, filled the air; and the cottage
gardens, crowded with flowers of every rich and beautiful tint,
sparkled, in the heavy dew, like beds of glittering jewels. Everything
bore the stamp of summer, and none of its beautiful colour had yet faded
from the die.

Such was the morning, when an open carriage, in which were three
Pickwickians (Mr. Snodgrass having preferred to remain at home), Mr.
Wardle, and Mr. Trundle, with Sam Weller on the box beside the driver,
pulled up by a gate at the roadside, before which stood a tall,
raw-boned gamekeeper, and a half-booted, leather-legginged boy, each
bearing a bag of capacious dimensions, and accompanied by a brace of
pointers.

'I say,' whispered Mr. Winkle to Wardle, as the man let down the steps,
'they don't suppose we're going to kill game enough to fill those bags,
do they?'

'Fill them!' exclaimed old Wardle. 'Bless you, yes! You shall fill
one, and I the other; and when we've done with them, the pockets of our
shooting-jackets will hold as much more.'

Mr. Winkle dismounted without saying anything in reply to this
observation; but he thought within himself, that if the party remained
in the open air, till he had filled one of the bags, they stood a
considerable chance of catching colds in their heads.

'Hi, Juno, lass-hi, old girl; down, Daph, down,' said Wardle, caressing
the dogs. 'Sir Geoffrey still in Scotland, of course, Martin?'

The tall gamekeeper replied in the affirmative, and looked with some
surprise from Mr. Winkle, who was holding his gun as if he wished his
coat pocket to save him the trouble of pulling the trigger, to Mr.
Tupman, who was holding his as if he was afraid of it--as there is no
earthly reason to doubt he really was.

'My friends are not much in the way of this sort of thing yet, Martin,'
said Wardle, noticing the look. 'Live and learn, you know. They'll be
good shots one of these days. I beg my friend Winkle's pardon, though;
he has had some practice.'

Mr. Winkle smiled feebly over his blue neckerchief in acknowledgment of
the compliment, and got himself so mysteriously entangled with his gun,
in his modest confusion, that if the piece had been loaded, he must
inevitably have shot himself dead upon the spot.

'You mustn't handle your piece in that 'ere way, when you come to have
the charge in it, Sir,' said the tall gamekeeper gruffly; 'or I'm damned
if you won't make cold meat of some on us.'

Mr. Winkle, thus admonished, abruptly altered his position, and in so
doing, contrived to bring the barrel into pretty smart contact with Mr.
Weller's head.

'Hollo!' said Sam, picking up his hat, which had been knocked off, and
rubbing his temple. 'Hollo, sir! if you comes it this vay, you'll fill
one o' them bags, and something to spare, at one fire.'

Here the leather-legginged boy laughed very heartily, and then tried
to look as if it was somebody else, whereat Mr. Winkle frowned
majestically.

'Where did you tell the boy to meet us with the snack, Martin?' inquired
Wardle.

'Side of One-tree Hill, at twelve o'clock, Sir.'

'That's not Sir Geoffrey's land, is it?'

'No, Sir; but it's close by it. It's Captain Boldwig's land; but
there'll be nobody to interrupt us, and there's a fine bit of turf
there.'

'Very well,' said old Wardle. 'Now the sooner we're off the better. Will
you join us at twelve, then, Pickwick?'

Mr. Pickwick was particularly desirous to view the sport, the more
especially as he was rather anxious in respect of Mr. Winkle's life and
limbs. On so inviting a morning, too, it was very tantalising to turn
back, and leave his friends to enjoy themselves. It was, therefore, with
a very rueful air that he replied--

'Why, I suppose I must.'

'Ain't the gentleman a shot, Sir?' inquired the long gamekeeper.

'No,' replied Wardle; 'and he's lame besides.'

'I should very much like to go,' said Mr. Pickwick--'very much.'

There was a short pause of commiseration.

'There's a barrow t'other side the hedge,' said the boy. 'If the
gentleman's servant would wheel along the paths, he could keep nigh us,
and we could lift it over the stiles, and that.'

'The wery thing,' said Mr. Weller, who was a party interested, inasmuch
as he ardently longed to see the sport. 'The wery thing. Well said,
Smallcheek; I'll have it out in a minute.'

But here a difficulty arose. The long gamekeeper resolutely protested
against the introduction into a shooting party, of a gentleman in a
barrow, as a gross violation of all established rules and precedents.
It was a great objection, but not an insurmountable one. The gamekeeper
having been coaxed and feed, and having, moreover, eased his mind by
'punching' the head of the inventive youth who had first suggested the
use of the machine, Mr. Pickwick was placed in it, and off the party
set; Wardle and the long gamekeeper leading the way, and Mr. Pickwick in
the barrow, propelled by Sam, bringing up the rear.

'Stop, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick, when they had got half across the first
field.

'What's the matter now?' said Wardle.

'I won't suffer this barrow to be moved another step,' said Mr.
Pickwick, resolutely, 'unless Winkle carries that gun of his in a
different manner.'

'How AM I to carry it?' said the wretched Winkle. 'Carry it with the
muzzle to the ground,' replied Mr. Pickwick.

'It's so unsportsmanlike,' reasoned Winkle.

'I don't care whether it's unsportsmanlike or not,' replied Mr.
Pickwick; 'I am not going to be shot in a wheel-barrow, for the sake of
appearances, to please anybody.'

'I know the gentleman'll put that 'ere charge into somebody afore he's
done,' growled the long man.

'Well, well--I don't mind,' said poor Winkle, turning his gun-stock
uppermost--'there.'

'Anythin' for a quiet life,' said Mr. Weller; and on they went again.

'Stop!' said Mr. Pickwick, after they had gone a few yards farther.

'What now?' said Wardle.

'That gun of Tupman's is not safe: I know it isn't,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Eh? What! not safe?' said Mr. Tupman, in a tone of great alarm.

'Not as you are carrying it,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'I am very sorry to
make any further objection, but I cannot consent to go on, unless you
carry it as Winkle does his.'

'I think you had better, sir,' said the long gamekeeper, 'or you're
quite as likely to lodge the charge in yourself as in anything else.'

Mr. Tupman, with the most obliging haste, placed his piece in the
position required, and the party moved on again; the two amateurs
marching with reversed arms, like a couple of privates at a royal
funeral.

The dogs suddenly came to a dead stop, and the party advancing
stealthily a single pace, stopped too.

'What's the matter with the dogs' legs?' whispered Mr. Winkle. 'How
queer they're standing.'

'Hush, can't you?' replied Wardle softly. 'Don't you see, they're making
a point?'

'Making a point!' said Mr. Winkle, staring about him, as if he expected
to discover some particular beauty in the landscape, which the sagacious
animals were calling special attention to. 'Making a point! What are
they pointing at?'

'Keep your eyes open,' said Wardle, not heeding the question in the
excitement of the moment. 'Now then.'

There was a sharp whirring noise, that made Mr. Winkle start back as if
he had been shot himself. Bang, bang, went a couple of guns--the smoke
swept quickly away over the field, and curled into the air.

'Where are they!' said Mr. Winkle, in a state of the highest excitement,
turning round and round in all directions. 'Where are they? Tell me when
to fire. Where are they--where are they?'

'Where are they!' said Wardle, taking up a brace of birds which the dogs
had deposited at his feet. 'Why, here they are.'

'No, no; I mean the others,' said the bewildered Winkle.

'Far enough off, by this time,' replied Wardle, coolly reloading his
gun.

'We shall very likely be up with another covey in five minutes,' said
the long gamekeeper. 'If the gentleman begins to fire now, perhaps he'll
just get the shot out of the barrel by the time they rise.'

'Ha! ha! ha!' roared Mr. Weller.

'Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick, compassionating his follower's confusion and
embarrassment.

'Sir.'

'Don't laugh.'

'Certainly not, Sir.' So, by way of indemnification, Mr. Weller
contorted his features from behind the wheel-barrow, for the exclusive
amusement of the boy with the leggings, who thereupon burst into a
boisterous laugh, and was summarily cuffed by the long gamekeeper, who
wanted a pretext for turning round, to hide his own merriment.

'Bravo, old fellow!' said Wardle to Mr. Tupman; 'you fired that time, at
all events.'

'Oh, yes,' replied Mr. Tupman, with conscious pride. 'I let it off.'

'Well done. You'll hit something next time, if you look sharp. Very
easy, ain't it?'

'Yes, it's very easy,' said Mr. Tupman. 'How it hurts one's shoulder,
though. It nearly knocked me backwards. I had no idea these small
firearms kicked so.'

'Ah,' said the old gentleman, smiling, 'you'll get used to it in time.
Now then--all ready--all right with the barrow there?'

'All right, Sir,' replied Mr. Weller.

'Come along, then.'

'Hold hard, Sir,' said Sam, raising the barrow.

'Aye, aye,' replied Mr. Pickwick; and on they went, as briskly as need
be.

'Keep that barrow back now,' cried Wardle, when it had been hoisted over
a stile into another field, and Mr. Pickwick had been deposited in it
once more.

'All right, sir,' replied Mr. Weller, pausing.

'Now, Winkle,' said the old gentleman, 'follow me softly, and don't be
too late this time.'

'Never fear,' said Mr. Winkle. 'Are they pointing?'

'No, no; not now. Quietly now, quietly.' On they crept, and very quietly
they would have advanced, if Mr. Winkle, in the performance of some very
intricate evolutions with his gun, had not accidentally fired, at the
most critical moment, over the boy's head, exactly in the very spot
where the tall man's brain would have been, had he been there instead.

'Why, what on earth did you do that for?' said old Wardle, as the birds
flew unharmed away.

'I never saw such a gun in my life,' replied poor Mr. Winkle, looking at
the lock, as if that would do any good. 'It goes off of its own accord.
It WILL do it.'

'Will do it!' echoed Wardle, with something of irritation in his manner.
'I wish it would kill something of its own accord.'

'It'll do that afore long, Sir,' observed the tall man, in a low,
prophetic voice.

'What do you mean by that observation, Sir?' inquired Mr. Winkle,
angrily.

'Never mind, Sir, never mind,' replied the long gamekeeper; 'I've
no family myself, sir; and this here boy's mother will get something
handsome from Sir Geoffrey, if he's killed on his land. Load again, Sir,
load again.'

'Take away his gun,' cried Mr. Pickwick from the barrow, horror-stricken
at the long man's dark insinuations. 'Take away his gun, do you hear,
somebody?'

Nobody, however, volunteered to obey the command; and Mr. Winkle, after
darting a rebellious glance at Mr. Pickwick, reloaded his gun, and
proceeded onwards with the rest.

We are bound, on the authority of Mr. Pickwick, to state, that
Mr. Tupman's mode of proceeding evinced far more of prudence and
deliberation, than that adopted by Mr. Winkle. Still, this by no means
detracts from the great authority of the latter gentleman, on all
matters connected with the field; because, as Mr. Pickwick beautifully
observes, it has somehow or other happened, from time immemorial, that
many of the best and ablest philosophers, who have been perfect lights
of science in matters of theory, have been wholly unable to reduce them
to practice.

Mr. Tupman's process, like many of our most sublime discoveries, was
extremely simple. With the quickness and penetration of a man of
genius, he had at once observed that the two great points to be attained
were--first, to discharge his piece without injury to himself, and,
secondly, to do so, without danger to the bystanders--obviously, the
best thing to do, after surmounting the difficulty of firing at all, was
to shut his eyes firmly, and fire into the air.

On one occasion, after performing this feat, Mr. Tupman, on opening his
eyes, beheld a plump partridge in the act of falling, wounded, to
the ground. He was on the point of congratulating Mr. Wardle on his
invariable success, when that gentleman advanced towards him, and
grasped him warmly by the hand.

'Tupman,' said the old gentleman, 'you singled out that particular
bird?'

'No,' said Mr. Tupman--'no.'

'You did,' said Wardle. 'I saw you do it--I observed you pick him out--I
noticed you, as you raised your piece to take aim; and I will say this,
that the best shot in existence could not have done it more beautifully.
You are an older hand at this than I thought you, Tupman; you have been
out before.' It was in vain for Mr. Tupman to protest, with a smile of
self-denial, that he never had. The very smile was taken as evidence to
the contrary; and from that time forth his reputation was established.
It is not the only reputation that has been acquired as easily, nor are
such fortunate circumstances confined to partridge-shooting.

Meanwhile, Mr. Winkle flashed, and blazed, and smoked away, without
producing any material results worthy of being noted down; sometimes
expending his charge in mid-air, and at others sending it skimming along
so near the surface of the ground as to place the lives of the two
dogs on a rather uncertain and precarious tenure. As a display of
fancy-shooting, it was extremely varied and curious; as an exhibition
of firing with any precise object, it was, upon the whole, perhaps a
failure. It is an established axiom, that 'every bullet has its billet.'
If it apply in an equal degree to shot, those of Mr. Winkle were
unfortunate foundlings, deprived of their natural rights, cast loose
upon the world, and billeted nowhere. 'Well,' said Wardle, walking up to
the side of the barrow, and wiping the streams of perspiration from his
jolly red face; 'smoking day, isn't it?'

'It is, indeed,' replied Mr. Pickwick. The sun is tremendously hot, even
to me. I don't know how you must feel it.'

'Why,' said the old gentleman, 'pretty hot. It's past twelve, though.
You see that green hill there?'

'Certainly.'

'That's the place where we are to lunch; and, by Jove, there's the boy
with the basket, punctual as clockwork!'

'So he is,' said Mr. Pickwick, brightening up. 'Good boy, that. I'll
give him a shilling, presently. Now, then, Sam, wheel away.'

'Hold on, sir,' said Mr. Weller, invigorated with the prospect of
refreshments. 'Out of the vay, young leathers. If you walley my precious
life don't upset me, as the gen'l'm'n said to the driver when they was
a-carryin' him to Tyburn.' And quickening his pace to a sharp run, Mr.
Weller wheeled his master nimbly to the green hill, shot him dexterously
out by the very side of the basket, and proceeded to unpack it with the
utmost despatch.

'Weal pie,' said Mr. Weller, soliloquising, as he arranged the eatables
on the grass. 'Wery good thing is weal pie, when you know the lady
as made it, and is quite sure it ain't kittens; and arter all though,
where's the odds, when they're so like weal that the wery piemen
themselves don't know the difference?'

'Don't they, Sam?' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Not they, sir,' replied Mr. Weller, touching his hat. 'I lodged in the
same house vith a pieman once, sir, and a wery nice man he was--reg'lar
clever chap, too--make pies out o' anything, he could. "What a number
o' cats you keep, Mr. Brooks," says I, when I'd got intimate with him.
"Ah," says he, "I do--a good many," says he, "You must be wery fond o'
cats," says I. "Other people is," says he, a-winkin' at me; "they ain't
in season till the winter though," says he. "Not in season!" says I.
"No," says he, "fruits is in, cats is out." "Why, what do you mean?"
says I. "Mean!" says he. "That I'll never be a party to the combination
o' the butchers, to keep up the price o' meat," says he. "Mr. Weller,"
says he, a-squeezing my hand wery hard, and vispering in my ear--"don't
mention this here agin--but it's the seasonin' as does it. They're all
made o' them noble animals," says he, a-pointin' to a wery nice little
tabby kitten, "and I seasons 'em for beefsteak, weal or kidney, 'cording
to the demand. And more than that," says he, "I can make a weal a
beef-steak, or a beef-steak a kidney, or any one on 'em a mutton, at a
minute's notice, just as the market changes, and appetites wary!"'

'He must have been a very ingenious young man, that, Sam,' said Mr.
Pickwick, with a slight shudder.

'Just was, sir,' replied Mr. Weller, continuing his occupation of
emptying the basket, 'and the pies was beautiful. Tongue--, well that's
a wery good thing when it ain't a woman's. Bread--knuckle o' ham,
reg'lar picter--cold beef in slices, wery good. What's in them stone
jars, young touch-and-go?'

'Beer in this one,' replied the boy, taking from his shoulder a couple
of large stone bottles, fastened together by a leathern strap--'cold
punch in t'other.'

'And a wery good notion of a lunch it is, take it altogether,' said Mr.
Weller, surveying his arrangement of the repast with great satisfaction.
'Now, gen'l'm'n, "fall on," as the English said to the French when they
fixed bagginets.'

It needed no second invitation to induce the party to yield full justice
to the meal; and as little pressing did it require to induce Mr. Weller,
the long gamekeeper, and the two boys, to station themselves on the
grass, at a little distance, and do good execution upon a decent
proportion of the viands. An old oak afforded a pleasant shelter to the
group, and a rich prospect of arable and meadow land, intersected with
luxuriant hedges, and richly ornamented with wood, lay spread out before
them.

'This is delightful--thoroughly delightful!' said Mr. Pickwick; the skin
of whose expressive countenance was rapidly peeling off, with exposure
to the sun.

'So it is--so it is, old fellow,' replied Wardle. 'Come; a glass of
punch!'

'With great pleasure,' said Mr. Pickwick; the satisfaction of whose
countenance, after drinking it, bore testimony to the sincerity of the
reply.

'Good,' said Mr. Pickwick, smacking his lips. 'Very good. I'll take
another. Cool; very cool. Come, gentlemen,' continued Mr. Pickwick,
still retaining his hold upon the jar, 'a toast. Our friends at Dingley
Dell.'

The toast was drunk with loud acclamations.

'I'll tell you what I shall do, to get up my shooting again,' said Mr.
Winkle, who was eating bread and ham with a pocket-knife. 'I'll put a
stuffed partridge on the top of a post, and practise at it, beginning
at a short distance, and lengthening it by degrees. I understand it's
capital practice.'

'I know a gen'l'man, Sir,' said Mr. Weller, 'as did that, and begun at
two yards; but he never tried it on agin; for he blowed the bird right
clean away at the first fire, and nobody ever seed a feather on him
arterwards.'

'Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Sir,' replied Mr. Weller.

'Have the goodness to reserve your anecdotes till they are called for.'

'Cert'nly, sir.'

Here Mr. Weller winked the eye which was not concealed by the beer-can
he was raising to his lips, with such exquisite facetiousness, that
the two boys went into spontaneous convulsions, and even the long man
condescended to smile.

'Well, that certainly is most capital cold punch,' said Mr. Pickwick,
looking earnestly at the stone bottle; 'and the day is extremely warm,
and--Tupman, my dear friend, a glass of punch?'

'With the greatest delight,' replied Mr. Tupman; and having drank that
glass, Mr. Pickwick took another, just to see whether there was any
orange peel in the punch, because orange peel always disagreed with him;
and finding that there was not, Mr. Pickwick took another glass to the
health of their absent friend, and then felt himself imperatively called
upon to propose another in honour of the punch-compounder, unknown.

This constant succession of glasses produced considerable effect
upon Mr. Pickwick; his countenance beamed with the most sunny smiles,
laughter played around his lips, and good-humoured merriment twinkled
in his eye. Yielding by degrees to the influence of the exciting liquid,
rendered more so by the heat, Mr. Pickwick expressed a strong desire
to recollect a song which he had heard in his infancy, and the attempt
proving abortive, sought to stimulate his memory with more glasses
of punch, which appeared to have quite a contrary effect; for, from
forgetting the words of the song, he began to forget how to articulate
any words at all; and finally, after rising to his legs to address the
company in an eloquent speech, he fell into the barrow, and fast asleep,
simultaneously.

The basket having been repacked, and it being found perfectly impossible
to awaken Mr. Pickwick from his torpor, some discussion took place
whether it would be better for Mr. Weller to wheel his master back
again, or to leave him where he was, until they should all be ready to
return. The latter course was at length decided on; and as the further
expedition was not to exceed an hour's duration, and as Mr. Weller
begged very hard to be one of the party, it was determined to leave Mr.
Pickwick asleep in the barrow, and to call for him on their return. So
away they went, leaving Mr. Pickwick snoring most comfortably in the
shade.

That Mr. Pickwick would have continued to snore in the shade until his
friends came back, or, in default thereof, until the shades of evening
had fallen on the landscape, there appears no reasonable cause to doubt;
always supposing that he had been suffered to remain there in peace.
But he was NOT suffered to remain there in peace. And this was what
prevented him.

Captain Boldwig was a little fierce man in a stiff black neckerchief and
blue surtout, who, when he did condescend to walk about his property,
did it in company with a thick rattan stick with a brass ferrule, and a
gardener and sub-gardener with meek faces, to whom (the gardeners, not
the stick) Captain Boldwig gave his orders with all due grandeur and
ferocity; for Captain Boldwig's wife's sister had married a marquis, and
the captain's house was a villa, and his land 'grounds,' and it was all
very high, and mighty, and great.

Mr. Pickwick had not been asleep half an hour when little Captain
Boldwig, followed by the two gardeners, came striding along as fast as
his size and importance would let him; and when he came near the oak
tree, Captain Boldwig paused and drew a long breath, and looked at the
prospect as if he thought the prospect ought to be highly gratified
at having him to take notice of it; and then he struck the ground
emphatically with his stick, and summoned the head-gardener.

'Hunt,' said Captain Boldwig.

'Yes, Sir,' said the gardener.

'Roll this place to-morrow morning--do you hear, Hunt?'

'Yes, Sir.'

'And take care that you keep this place in good order--do you hear,
Hunt?'

'Yes, Sir.'

'And remind me to have a board done about trespassers, and spring guns,
and all that sort of thing, to keep the common people out. Do you hear,
Hunt; do you hear?'

'I'll not forget it, Sir.'

'I beg your pardon, Sir,' said the other man, advancing, with his hand
to his hat.

'Well, Wilkins, what's the matter with you?' said Captain Boldwig.

'I beg your pardon, sir--but I think there have been trespassers here
to-day.'

'Ha!' said the captain, scowling around him.

'Yes, sir--they have been dining here, I think, sir.'

'Why, damn their audacity, so they have,' said Captain Boldwig, as the
crumbs and fragments that were strewn upon the grass met his eye. 'They
have actually been devouring their food here. I wish I had the vagabonds
here!' said the captain, clenching the thick stick.

'I wish I had the vagabonds here,' said the captain wrathfully.

'Beg your pardon, sir,' said Wilkins, 'but--'

'But what? Eh?' roared the captain; and following the timid glance of
Wilkins, his eyes encountered the wheel-barrow and Mr. Pickwick.

'Who are you, you rascal?' said the captain, administering several pokes
to Mr. Pickwick's body with the thick stick. 'What's your name?'

'Cold punch,' murmured Mr. Pickwick, as he sank to sleep again.

'What?' demanded Captain Boldwig.

No reply.

'What did he say his name was?' asked the captain.

'Punch, I think, sir,' replied Wilkins.

'That's his impudence--that's his confounded impudence,' said Captain
Boldwig. 'He's only feigning to be asleep now,' said the captain, in
a high passion. 'He's drunk; he's a drunken plebeian. Wheel him away,
Wilkins, wheel him away directly.' 'Where shall I wheel him to, sir?'
inquired Wilkins, with great timidity.

'Wheel him to the devil,' replied Captain Boldwig.

'Very well, sir,' said Wilkins.

'Stay,' said the captain.

Wilkins stopped accordingly.

'Wheel him,' said the captain--'wheel him to the pound; and let us see
whether he calls himself Punch when he comes to himself. He shall not
bully me--he shall not bully me. Wheel him away.'

Away Mr. Pickwick was wheeled in compliance with this imperious mandate;
and the great Captain Boldwig, swelling with indignation, proceeded on
his walk.

Inexpressible was the astonishment of the little party when they
returned, to find that Mr. Pickwick had disappeared, and taken the
wheel-barrow with him. It was the most mysterious and unaccountable
thing that was ever heard of For a lame man to have got upon his legs
without any previous notice, and walked off, would have been most
extraordinary; but when it came to his wheeling a heavy barrow before
him, by way of amusement, it grew positively miraculous. They searched
every nook and corner round, together and separately; they shouted,
whistled, laughed, called--and all with the same result. Mr. Pickwick
was not to be found. After some hours of fruitless search, they arrived
at the unwelcome conclusion that they must go home without him.

Meanwhile Mr. Pickwick had been wheeled to the pound, and safely
deposited therein, fast asleep in the wheel-barrow, to the immeasurable
delight and satisfaction not only of all the boys in the village,
but three-fourths of the whole population, who had gathered round, in
expectation of his waking. If their most intense gratification had been
awakened by seeing him wheeled in, how many hundredfold was their joy
increased when, after a few indistinct cries of 'Sam!' he sat up in the
barrow, and gazed with indescribable astonishment on the faces before
him.

A general shout was of course the signal of his having woke up; and his
involuntary inquiry of 'What's the matter?' occasioned another, louder
than the first, if possible.

'Here's a game!' roared the populace.

'Where am I?' exclaimed Mr. Pickwick.

'In the pound,' replied the mob.

'How came I here? What was I doing? Where was I brought from?' 'Boldwig!
Captain Boldwig!' was the only reply.

'Let me out,' cried Mr. Pickwick. 'Where's my servant? Where are my
friends?'

'You ain't got no friends. Hurrah!' Then there came a turnip, then a
potato, and then an egg; with a few other little tokens of the playful
disposition of the many-headed.

How long this scene might have lasted, or how much Mr. Pickwick might
have suffered, no one can tell, had not a carriage, which was driving
swiftly by, suddenly pulled up, from whence there descended old Wardle
and Sam Weller, the former of whom, in far less time than it takes to
write it, if not to read it, had made his way to Mr. Pickwick's side,
and placed him in the vehicle, just as the latter had concluded the
third and last round of a single combat with the town-beadle.

'Run to the justice's!' cried a dozen voices.

'Ah, run avay,' said Mr. Weller, jumping up on the box. 'Give my
compliments--Mr. Veller's compliments--to the justice, and tell him I've
spiled his beadle, and that, if he'll swear in a new 'un, I'll come back
again to-morrow and spile him. Drive on, old feller.'

'I'll give directions for the commencement of an action for false
imprisonment against this Captain Boldwig, directly I get to London,'
said Mr. Pickwick, as soon as the carriage turned out of the town.

'We were trespassing, it seems,' said Wardle.

'I don't care,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'I'll bring the action.'

'No, you won't,' said Wardle.

'I will, by--' But as there was a humorous expression in Wardle's face,
Mr. Pickwick checked himself, and said, 'Why not?'

'Because,' said old Wardle, half-bursting with laughter, 'because they
might turn on some of us, and say we had taken too much cold punch.'

Do what he would, a smile would come into Mr. Pickwick's face; the smile
extended into a laugh; the laugh into a roar; the roar became general.
So, to keep up their good-humour, they stopped at the first roadside
tavern they came to, and ordered a glass of brandy-and-water all round,
with a magnum of extra strength for Mr. Samuel Weller.



CHAPTER XX. SHOWING HOW DODSON AND FOGG WERE MEN OF BUSINESS, AND
THEIR CLERKS MEN OF PLEASURE; AND HOW AN AFFECTING INTERVIEW TOOK PLACE
BETWEEN Mr. WELLER AND HIS LONG-LOST PARENT; SHOWING ALSO WHAT CHOICE
SPIRITS ASSEMBLED AT THE MAGPIE AND STUMP, AND WHAT A CAPITAL CHAPTER
THE NEXT ONE WILL BE


In the ground-floor front of a dingy house, at the very farthest end of
Freeman's Court, Cornhill, sat the four clerks of Messrs. Dodson & Fogg,
two of his Majesty's attorneys of the courts of King's Bench and Common
Pleas at Westminster, and solicitors of the High Court of Chancery--the
aforesaid clerks catching as favourable glimpses of heaven's light and
heaven's sun, in the course of their daily labours, as a man might
hope to do, were he placed at the bottom of a reasonably deep well; and
without the opportunity of perceiving the stars in the day-time, which
the latter secluded situation affords.

The clerks' office of Messrs. Dodson & Fogg was a dark, mouldy,
earthy-smelling room, with a high wainscotted partition to screen the
clerks from the vulgar gaze, a couple of old wooden chairs, a very
loud-ticking clock, an almanac, an umbrella-stand, a row of hat-pegs,
and a few shelves, on which were deposited several ticketed bundles of
dirty papers, some old deal boxes with paper labels, and sundry decayed
stone ink bottles of various shapes and sizes. There was a glass door
leading into the passage which formed the entrance to the court, and on
the outer side of this glass door, Mr. Pickwick, closely followed by
Sam Weller, presented himself on the Friday morning succeeding the
occurrence of which a faithful narration is given in the last chapter.

'Come in, can't you!' cried a voice from behind the partition, in reply
to Mr. Pickwick's gentle tap at the door. And Mr. Pickwick and Sam
entered accordingly.

'Mr. Dodson or Mr. Fogg at home, sir?' inquired Mr. Pickwick, gently,
advancing, hat in hand, towards the partition.

'Mr. Dodson ain't at home, and Mr. Fogg's particularly engaged,' replied
the voice; and at the same time the head to which the voice belonged,
with a pen behind its ear, looked over the partition, and at Mr.
Pickwick.

It was a ragged head, the sandy hair of which, scrupulously parted
on one side, and flattened down with pomatum, was twisted into little
semi-circular tails round a flat face ornamented with a pair of small
eyes, and garnished with a very dirty shirt collar, and a rusty black
stock.

'Mr. Dodson ain't at home, and Mr. Fogg's particularly engaged,' said
the man to whom the head belonged.

'When will Mr. Dodson be back, sir?' inquired Mr. Pickwick. 'Can't say.'

'Will it be long before Mr. Fogg is disengaged, Sir?'

'Don't know.'

Here the man proceeded to mend his pen with great deliberation, while
another clerk, who was mixing a Seidlitz powder, under cover of the lid
of his desk, laughed approvingly.

'I think I'll wait,' said Mr. Pickwick. There was no reply; so Mr.
Pickwick sat down unbidden, and listened to the loud ticking of the
clock and the murmured conversation of the clerks.

'That was a game, wasn't it?' said one of the gentlemen, in a brown coat
and brass buttons, inky drabs, and bluchers, at the conclusion of some
inaudible relation of his previous evening's adventures.

'Devilish good--devilish good,' said the Seidlitz-powder man. 'Tom
Cummins was in the chair,' said the man with the brown coat. 'It was
half-past four when I got to Somers Town, and then I was so uncommon
lushy, that I couldn't find the place where the latch-key went in, and
was obliged to knock up the old 'ooman. I say, I wonder what old Fogg
'ud say, if he knew it. I should get the sack, I s'pose--eh?'

At this humorous notion, all the clerks laughed in concert.

'There was such a game with Fogg here, this mornin',' said the man in
the brown coat, 'while Jack was upstairs sorting the papers, and you two
were gone to the stamp-office. Fogg was down here, opening the letters
when that chap as we issued the writ against at Camberwell, you know,
came in--what's his name again?'

'Ramsey,' said the clerk who had spoken to Mr. Pickwick.

'Ah, Ramsey--a precious seedy-looking customer. "Well, sir," says old
Fogg, looking at him very fierce--you know his way--"well, Sir, have you
come to settle?" "Yes, I have, sir," said Ramsey, putting his hand in
his pocket, and bringing out the money, "the debt's two pound ten, and
the costs three pound five, and here it is, Sir;" and he sighed like
bricks, as he lugged out the money, done up in a bit of blotting-paper.
Old Fogg looked first at the money, and then at him, and then he coughed
in his rum way, so that I knew something was coming. "You don't know
there's a declaration filed, which increases the costs materially, I
suppose," said Fogg. "You don't say that, sir," said Ramsey, starting
back; "the time was only out last night, Sir." "I do say it, though,"
said Fogg, "my clerk's just gone to file it. Hasn't Mr. Jackson gone
to file that declaration in Bullman and Ramsey, Mr. Wicks?" Of course I
said yes, and then Fogg coughed again, and looked at Ramsey. "My God!"
said Ramsey; "and here have I nearly driven myself mad, scraping this
money together, and all to no purpose." "None at all," said Fogg coolly;
"so you had better go back and scrape some more together, and bring it
here in time." "I can't get it, by God!" said Ramsey, striking the desk
with his fist. "Don't bully me, sir," said Fogg, getting into a passion
on purpose. "I am not bullying you, sir," said Ramsey. "You are," said
Fogg; "get out, sir; get out of this office, Sir, and come back, Sir,
when you know how to behave yourself." Well, Ramsey tried to speak, but
Fogg wouldn't let him, so he put the money in his pocket, and sneaked
out. The door was scarcely shut, when old Fogg turned round to me, with
a sweet smile on his face, and drew the declaration out of his coat
pocket. "Here, Wicks," says Fogg, "take a cab, and go down to the Temple
as quick as you can, and file that. The costs are quite safe, for he's a
steady man with a large family, at a salary of five-and-twenty shillings
a week, and if he gives us a warrant of attorney, as he must in the end,
I know his employers will see it paid; so we may as well get all we can
get out of him, Mr. Wicks; it's a Christian act to do it, Mr. Wicks, for
with his large family and small income, he'll be all the better for
a good lesson against getting into debt--won't he, Mr. Wicks, won't
he?"--and he smiled so good-naturedly as he went away, that it was
delightful to see him. He is a capital man of business,' said Wicks, in
a tone of the deepest admiration, 'capital, isn't he?'

The other three cordially subscribed to this opinion, and the anecdote
afforded the most unlimited satisfaction.

'Nice men these here, Sir,' whispered Mr. Weller to his master; 'wery
nice notion of fun they has, Sir.'

Mr. Pickwick nodded assent, and coughed to attract the attention of
the young gentlemen behind the partition, who, having now relaxed their
minds by a little conversation among themselves, condescended to take
some notice of the stranger.

'I wonder whether Fogg's disengaged now?' said Jackson.

'I'll see,' said Wicks, dismounting leisurely from his stool. 'What name
shall I tell Mr. Fogg?'

'Pickwick,' replied the illustrious subject of these memoirs.

Mr. Jackson departed upstairs on his errand, and immediately returned
with a message that Mr. Fogg would see Mr. Pickwick in five minutes; and
having delivered it, returned again to his desk.

'What did he say his name was?' whispered Wicks.

'Pickwick,' replied Jackson; 'it's the defendant in Bardell and
Pickwick.'

A sudden scraping of feet, mingled with the sound of suppressed
laughter, was heard from behind the partition.

'They're a-twiggin' of you, Sir,' whispered Mr. Weller.

'Twigging of me, Sam!' replied Mr. Pickwick; 'what do you mean by
twigging me?'

Mr. Weller replied by pointing with his thumb over his shoulder, and Mr.
Pickwick, on looking up, became sensible of the pleasing fact, that all
the four clerks, with countenances expressive of the utmost amusement,
and with their heads thrust over the wooden screen, were minutely
inspecting the figure and general appearance of the supposed trifler
with female hearts, and disturber of female happiness. On his looking
up, the row of heads suddenly disappeared, and the sound of pens
travelling at a furious rate over paper, immediately succeeded.

A sudden ring at the bell which hung in the office, summoned Mr. Jackson
to the apartment of Fogg, from whence he came back to say that he (Fogg)
was ready to see Mr. Pickwick if he would step upstairs. Upstairs Mr.
Pickwick did step accordingly, leaving Sam Weller below. The room door
of the one-pair back, bore inscribed in legible characters the imposing
words, 'Mr. Fogg'; and, having tapped thereat, and been desired to come
in, Jackson ushered Mr. Pickwick into the presence.

'Is Mr. Dodson in?' inquired Mr. Fogg.

'Just come in, Sir,' replied Jackson.

'Ask him to step here.'

'Yes, sir.' Exit Jackson.

'Take a seat, sir,' said Fogg; 'there is the paper, sir; my partner will
be here directly, and we can converse about this matter, sir.'

Mr. Pickwick took a seat and the paper, but, instead of reading the
latter, peeped over the top of it, and took a survey of the man of
business, who was an elderly, pimply-faced, vegetable-diet sort of man,
in a black coat, dark mixture trousers, and small black gaiters; a kind
of being who seemed to be an essential part of the desk at which he was
writing, and to have as much thought or feeling.

After a few minutes' silence, Mr. Dodson, a plump, portly, stern-looking
man, with a loud voice, appeared; and the conversation commenced.

'This is Mr. Pickwick,' said Fogg.

'Ah! You are the defendant, Sir, in Bardell and Pickwick?' said Dodson.

'I am, sir,' replied Mr. Pickwick.

'Well, sir,' said Dodson, 'and what do you propose?'

'Ah!' said Fogg, thrusting his hands into his trousers' pockets, and
throwing himself back in his chair, 'what do you propose, Mr Pickwick?'

'Hush, Fogg,' said Dodson, 'let me hear what Mr. Pickwick has to say.'

'I came, gentlemen,' said Mr. Pickwick, gazing placidly on the two
partners, 'I came here, gentlemen, to express the surprise with which
I received your letter of the other day, and to inquire what grounds of
action you can have against me.'

'Grounds of--' Fogg had ejaculated this much, when he was stopped by
Dodson.

'Mr. Fogg,' said Dodson, 'I am going to speak.' 'I beg your pardon, Mr.
Dodson,' said Fogg.

'For the grounds of action, sir,' continued Dodson, with moral elevation
in his air, 'you will consult your own conscience and your own feelings.
We, Sir, we, are guided entirely by the statement of our client. That
statement, Sir, may be true, or it may be false; it may be credible, or
it may be incredible; but, if it be true, and if it be credible, I do
not hesitate to say, Sir, that our grounds of action, Sir, are strong,
and not to be shaken. You may be an unfortunate man, Sir, or you may be
a designing one; but if I were called upon, as a juryman upon my oath,
Sir, to express an opinion of your conduct, Sir, I do not hesitate to
assert that I should have but one opinion about it.' Here Dodson drew
himself up, with an air of offended virtue, and looked at Fogg, who
thrust his hands farther in his pockets, and nodding his head sagely,
said, in a tone of the fullest concurrence, 'Most certainly.'

'Well, Sir,' said Mr. Pickwick, with considerable pain depicted in
his countenance, 'you will permit me to assure you that I am a most
unfortunate man, so far as this case is concerned.'

'I hope you are, Sir,' replied Dodson; 'I trust you may be, Sir. If
you are really innocent of what is laid to your charge, you are more
unfortunate than I had believed any man could possibly be. What do you
say, Mr. Fogg?'

'I say precisely what you say,' replied Fogg, with a smile of
incredulity.

'The writ, Sir, which commences the action,' continued Dodson, 'was
issued regularly. Mr. Fogg, where is the PRAECIPE book?'

'Here it is,' said Fogg, handing over a square book, with a parchment
cover.

'Here is the entry,' resumed Dodson. '"Middlesex, Capias MARTHA
BARDELL, WIDOW, v. SAMUEL PICKWICK. Damages #1500. Dodson & Fogg for the
plaintiff, Aug. 28, 1827." All regular, Sir; perfectly.' Dodson coughed
and looked at Fogg, who said 'Perfectly,' also. And then they both
looked at Mr. Pickwick.

'I am to understand, then,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'that it really is your
intention to proceed with this action?'

'Understand, sir!--that you certainly may,' replied Dodson, with
something as near a smile as his importance would allow.

'And that the damages are actually laid at fifteen hundred pounds?' said
Mr. Pickwick.

'To which understanding you may add my assurance, that if we could
have prevailed upon our client, they would have been laid at treble the
amount, sir,' replied Dodson. 'I believe Mrs. Bardell specially said,
however,' observed Fogg, glancing at Dodson, 'that she would not
compromise for a farthing less.'

'Unquestionably,' replied Dodson sternly. For the action was only just
begun; and it wouldn't have done to let Mr. Pickwick compromise it then,
even if he had been so disposed.

'As you offer no terms, sir,' said Dodson, displaying a slip of
parchment in his right hand, and affectionately pressing a paper copy of
it, on Mr. Pickwick with his left, 'I had better serve you with a copy
of this writ, sir. Here is the original, sir.'

'Very well, gentlemen, very well,' said Mr. Pickwick, rising in
person and wrath at the same time; 'you shall hear from my solicitor,
gentlemen.'

'We shall be very happy to do so,' said Fogg, rubbing his hands.

'Very,' said Dodson, opening the door.

'And before I go, gentlemen,' said the excited Mr. Pickwick, turning
round on the landing, 'permit me to say, that of all the disgraceful and
rascally proceedings--'

'Stay, sir, stay,' interposed Dodson, with great politeness. 'Mr.
Jackson! Mr. Wicks!'

'Sir,' said the two clerks, appearing at the bottom of the stairs.

'I merely want you to hear what this gentleman says,' replied Dodson.
'Pray, go on, sir--disgraceful and rascally proceedings, I think you
said?'

'I did,' said Mr. Pickwick, thoroughly roused. 'I said, Sir, that of all
the disgraceful and rascally proceedings that ever were attempted, this
is the most so. I repeat it, sir.'

'You hear that, Mr. Wicks,' said Dodson.

'You won't forget these expressions, Mr. Jackson?' said Fogg.

'Perhaps you would like to call us swindlers, sir,' said Dodson. 'Pray
do, Sir, if you feel disposed; now pray do, Sir.'

'I do,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'You ARE swindlers.'

'Very good,' said Dodson. 'You can hear down there, I hope, Mr. Wicks?'

'Oh, yes, Sir,' said Wicks.

'You had better come up a step or two higher, if you can't,' added Mr.
Fogg. 'Go on, Sir; do go on. You had better call us thieves, Sir; or
perhaps You would like to assault one Of US. Pray do it, Sir, if you
would; we will not make the smallest resistance. Pray do it, Sir.'

As Fogg put himself very temptingly within the reach of Mr. Pickwick's
clenched fist, there is little doubt that that gentleman would have
complied with his earnest entreaty, but for the interposition of Sam,
who, hearing the dispute, emerged from the office, mounted the stairs,
and seized his master by the arm.

'You just come away,' said Mr. Weller. 'Battledore and shuttlecock's
a wery good game, vhen you ain't the shuttlecock and two lawyers the
battledores, in which case it gets too excitin' to be pleasant. Come
avay, Sir. If you want to ease your mind by blowing up somebody, come
out into the court and blow up me; but it's rayther too expensive work
to be carried on here.'

And without the slightest ceremony, Mr. Weller hauled his master down
the stairs, and down the court, and having safely deposited him in
Cornhill, fell behind, prepared to follow whithersoever he should lead.

Mr. Pickwick walked on abstractedly, crossed opposite the Mansion House,
and bent his steps up Cheapside. Sam began to wonder where they were
going, when his master turned round, and said--

'Sam, I will go immediately to Mr. Perker's.'

'That's just exactly the wery place vere you ought to have gone last
night, Sir,' replied Mr. Weller.

'I think it is, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'I KNOW it is,' said Mr.
Weller.

'Well, well, Sam,' replied Mr. Pickwick, 'we will go there at once;
but first, as I have been rather ruffled, I should like a glass of
brandy-and-water warm, Sam. Where can I have it, Sam?'

Mr. Weller's knowledge of London was extensive and peculiar. He replied,
without the slightest consideration--

'Second court on the right hand side--last house but vun on the same
side the vay--take the box as stands in the first fireplace, 'cos there
ain't no leg in the middle o' the table, which all the others has, and
it's wery inconvenient.'

Mr. Pickwick observed his valet's directions implicitly, and bidding
Sam follow him, entered the tavern he had pointed out, where the hot
brandy-and-water was speedily placed before him; while Mr. Weller,
seated at a respectful distance, though at the same table with his
master, was accommodated with a pint of porter.

The room was one of a very homely description, and was apparently under
the especial patronage of stage-coachmen; for several gentleman, who
had all the appearance of belonging to that learned profession, were
drinking and smoking in the different boxes. Among the number was one
stout, red-faced, elderly man, in particular, seated in an opposite box,
who attracted Mr. Pickwick's attention. The stout man was smoking with
great vehemence, but between every half-dozen puffs, he took his pipe
from his mouth, and looked first at Mr. Weller and then at Mr. Pickwick.
Then, he would bury in a quart pot, as much of his countenance as the
dimensions of the quart pot admitted of its receiving, and take another
look at Sam and Mr. Pickwick. Then he would take another half-dozen
puffs with an air of profound meditation and look at them again. At last
the stout man, putting up his legs on the seat, and leaning his back
against the wall, began to puff at his pipe without leaving off at all,
and to stare through the smoke at the new-comers, as if he had made up
his mind to see the most he could of them.

At first the evolutions of the stout man had escaped Mr. Weller's
observation, but by degrees, as he saw Mr. Pickwick's eyes every now and
then turning towards him, he began to gaze in the same direction, at the
same time shading his eyes with his hand, as if he partially recognised
the object before him, and wished to make quite sure of its identity.
His doubts were speedily dispelled, however; for the stout man having
blown a thick cloud from his pipe, a hoarse voice, like some strange
effort of ventriloquism, emerged from beneath the capacious shawls which
muffled his throat and chest, and slowly uttered these sounds--'Wy,
Sammy!'

'Who's that, Sam?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.

'Why, I wouldn't ha' believed it, Sir,' replied Mr. Weller, with
astonished eyes. 'It's the old 'un.'

'Old one,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'What old one?'

'My father, sir,' replied Mr. Weller. 'How are you, my ancient?' And
with this beautiful ebullition of filial affection, Mr. Weller made room
on the seat beside him, for the stout man, who advanced pipe in mouth
and pot in hand, to greet him.

'Wy, Sammy,' said the father, 'I ha'n't seen you, for two year and
better.'

'Nor more you have, old codger,' replied the son. 'How's mother-in-law?'

'Wy, I'll tell you what, Sammy,' said Mr. Weller, senior, with much
solemnity in his manner; 'there never was a nicer woman as a widder,
than that 'ere second wentur o' mine--a sweet creetur she was, Sammy;
all I can say on her now, is, that as she was such an uncommon pleasant
widder, it's a great pity she ever changed her condition. She don't act
as a vife, Sammy.' 'Don't she, though?' inquired Mr. Weller, junior.

The elder Mr. Weller shook his head, as he replied with a sigh, 'I've
done it once too often, Sammy; I've done it once too often. Take example
by your father, my boy, and be wery careful o' widders all your life,
'specially if they've kept a public-house, Sammy.' Having delivered this
parental advice with great pathos, Mr. Weller, senior, refilled his pipe
from a tin box he carried in his pocket; and, lighting his fresh pipe
from the ashes of the old One, commenced smoking at a great rate.

'Beg your pardon, sir,' he said, renewing the subject, and addressing
Mr. Pickwick, after a considerable pause, 'nothin' personal, I hope,
sir; I hope you ha'n't got a widder, sir.'

'Not I,' replied Mr. Pickwick, laughing; and while Mr. Pickwick laughed,
Sam Weller informed his parent in a whisper, of the relation in which he
stood towards that gentleman.

'Beg your pardon, sir,' said Mr. Weller, senior, taking off his hat, 'I
hope you've no fault to find with Sammy, Sir?'

'None whatever,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Wery glad to hear it, sir,' replied the old man; 'I took a good deal o'
pains with his eddication, sir; let him run in the streets when he
was wery young, and shift for hisself. It's the only way to make a boy
sharp, sir.'

'Rather a dangerous process, I should imagine,' said Mr. Pickwick, with
a smile.

'And not a wery sure one, neither,' added Mr. Weller; 'I got reg'larly
done the other day.'

'No!' said his father.

'I did,' said the son; and he proceeded to relate, in as few words
as possible, how he had fallen a ready dupe to the stratagems of Job
Trotter.

Mr. Weller, senior, listened to the tale with the most profound
attention, and, at its termination, said--

'Worn't one o' these chaps slim and tall, with long hair, and the gift
o' the gab wery gallopin'?'

Mr. Pickwick did not quite understand the last item of description, but,
comprehending the first, said 'Yes,' at a venture.

'T' other's a black-haired chap in mulberry livery, with a wery large
head?'

'Yes, yes, he is,' said Mr. Pickwick and Sam, with great earnestness.
'Then I know where they are, and that's all about it,' said Mr. Weller;
'they're at Ipswich, safe enough, them two.'

'No!' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Fact,' said Mr. Weller, 'and I'll tell you how I know it. I work an
Ipswich coach now and then for a friend o' mine. I worked down the wery
day arter the night as you caught the rheumatic, and at the Black Boy at
Chelmsford--the wery place they'd come to--I took 'em up, right through
to Ipswich, where the man-servant--him in the mulberries--told me they
was a-goin' to put up for a long time.'

'I'll follow him,' said Mr. Pickwick; 'we may as well see Ipswich as any
other place. I'll follow him.'

'You're quite certain it was them, governor?' inquired Mr. Weller,
junior.

'Quite, Sammy, quite,' replied his father, 'for their appearance is
wery sing'ler; besides that 'ere, I wondered to see the gen'l'm'n so
formiliar with his servant; and, more than that, as they sat in the
front, right behind the box, I heerd 'em laughing and saying how they'd
done old Fireworks.'

'Old who?' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Old Fireworks, Sir; by which, I've no doubt, they meant you, Sir.'
There is nothing positively vile or atrocious in the appellation of
'old Fireworks,' but still it is by no means a respectful or flattering
designation. The recollection of all the wrongs he had sustained at
Jingle's hands, had crowded on Mr. Pickwick's mind, the moment Mr.
Weller began to speak; it wanted but a feather to turn the scale, and
'old Fireworks' did it.

'I'll follow him,' said Mr. Pickwick, with an emphatic blow on the
table.

'I shall work down to Ipswich the day arter to-morrow, Sir,' said Mr.
Weller the elder, 'from the Bull in Whitechapel; and if you really mean
to go, you'd better go with me.'

'So we had,' said Mr. Pickwick; 'very true; I can write to Bury, and
tell them to meet me at Ipswich. We will go with you. But don't hurry
away, Mr. Weller; won't you take anything?'

'You're wery good, Sir,' replied Mr. W., stopping short;--'perhaps a
small glass of brandy to drink your health, and success to Sammy, Sir,
wouldn't be amiss.'

'Certainly not,' replied Mr. Pickwick. 'A glass of brandy here!' The
brandy was brought; and Mr. Weller, after pulling his hair to Mr.
Pickwick, and nodding to Sam, jerked it down his capacious throat as
if it had been a small thimbleful. 'Well done, father,' said Sam, 'take
care, old fellow, or you'll have a touch of your old complaint, the
gout.'

'I've found a sov'rin' cure for that, Sammy,' said Mr. Weller, setting
down the glass.

'A sovereign cure for the gout,' said Mr. Pickwick, hastily producing
his note-book--'what is it?'

'The gout, Sir,' replied Mr. Weller, 'the gout is a complaint as arises
from too much ease and comfort. If ever you're attacked with the gout,
sir, jist you marry a widder as has got a good loud woice, with a decent
notion of usin' it, and you'll never have the gout agin. It's a capital
prescription, sir. I takes it reg'lar, and I can warrant it to drive
away any illness as is caused by too much jollity.' Having imparted
this valuable secret, Mr. Weller drained his glass once more, produced a
laboured wink, sighed deeply, and slowly retired.

'Well, what do you think of what your father says, Sam?' inquired Mr.
Pickwick, with a smile.

'Think, Sir!' replied Mr. Weller; 'why, I think he's the wictim o'
connubiality, as Blue Beard's domestic chaplain said, vith a tear of
pity, ven he buried him.'

There was no replying to this very apposite conclusion, and, therefore,
Mr. Pickwick, after settling the reckoning, resumed his walk to Gray's
Inn. By the time he reached its secluded groves, however, eight o'clock
had struck, and the unbroken stream of gentlemen in muddy high-lows,
soiled white hats, and rusty apparel, who were pouring towards the
different avenues of egress, warned him that the majority of the offices
had closed for that day.

After climbing two pairs of steep and dirty stairs, he found his
anticipations were realised. Mr. Perker's 'outer door' was closed; and
the dead silence which followed Mr. Weller's repeated kicks thereat,
announced that the officials had retired from business for the night.

'This is pleasant, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick; 'I shouldn't lose an hour
in seeing him; I shall not be able to get one wink of sleep to-night, I
know, unless I have the satisfaction of reflecting that I have confided
this matter to a professional man.'

'Here's an old 'ooman comin' upstairs, sir,' replied Mr. Weller; 'p'raps
she knows where we can find somebody. Hollo, old lady, vere's Mr.
Perker's people?'

'Mr. Perker's people,' said a thin, miserable-looking old woman,
stopping to recover breath after the ascent of the staircase--'Mr.
Perker's people's gone, and I'm a-goin' to do the office out.' 'Are you
Mr. Perker's servant?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.

'I am Mr. Perker's laundress,' replied the woman.

'Ah,' said Mr. Pickwick, half aside to Sam, 'it's a curious
circumstance, Sam, that they call the old women in these inns,
laundresses. I wonder what's that for?'

''Cos they has a mortal awersion to washing anythin', I suppose, Sir,'
replied Mr. Weller.

'I shouldn't wonder,' said Mr. Pickwick, looking at the old woman, whose
appearance, as well as the condition of the office, which she had by
this time opened, indicated a rooted antipathy to the application
of soap and water; 'do you know where I can find Mr. Perker, my good
woman?'

'No, I don't,' replied the old woman gruffly; 'he's out o' town now.'

'That's unfortunate,' said Mr. Pickwick; 'where's his clerk? Do you
know?'

'Yes, I know where he is, but he won't thank me for telling you,'
replied the laundress.

'I have very particular business with him,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'Won't it
do in the morning?' said the woman.

'Not so well,' replied Mr. Pickwick.

'Well,' said the old woman, 'if it was anything very particular, I was
to say where he was, so I suppose there's no harm in telling. If you
just go to the Magpie and Stump, and ask at the bar for Mr. Lowten,
they'll show you in to him, and he's Mr. Perker's clerk.'

With this direction, and having been furthermore informed that the
hostelry in question was situated in a court, happy in the double
advantage of being in the vicinity of Clare Market, and closely
approximating to the back of New Inn, Mr. Pickwick and Sam descended the
rickety staircase in safety, and issued forth in quest of the Magpie and
Stump.

This favoured tavern, sacred to the evening orgies of Mr. Lowten and
his companions, was what ordinary people would designate a public-house.
That the landlord was a man of money-making turn was sufficiently
testified by the fact of a small bulkhead beneath the tap-room window,
in size and shape not unlike a sedan-chair, being underlet to a mender
of shoes: and that he was a being of a philanthropic mind was evident
from the protection he afforded to a pieman, who vended his delicacies
without fear of interruption, on the very door-step. In the lower
windows, which were decorated with curtains of a saffron hue, dangled
two or three printed cards, bearing reference to Devonshire cider and
Dantzic spruce, while a large blackboard, announcing in white letters to
an enlightened public, that there were 500,000 barrels of double stout
in the cellars of the establishment, left the mind in a state of not
unpleasing doubt and uncertainty as to the precise direction in the
bowels of the earth, in which this mighty cavern might be supposed
to extend. When we add that the weather-beaten signboard bore the
half-obliterated semblance of a magpie intently eyeing a crooked streak
of brown paint, which the neighbours had been taught from infancy to
consider as the 'stump,' we have said all that need be said of the
exterior of the edifice.

On Mr. Pickwick's presenting himself at the bar, an elderly female
emerged from behind the screen therein, and presented herself before
him.

'Is Mr. Lowten here, ma'am?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.

'Yes, he is, Sir,' replied the landlady. 'Here, Charley, show the
gentleman in to Mr. Lowten.'

'The gen'l'm'n can't go in just now,' said a shambling pot-boy, with a
red head, 'cos' Mr. Lowten's a-singin' a comic song, and he'll put him
out. He'll be done directly, Sir.'

The red-headed pot-boy had scarcely finished speaking, when a most
unanimous hammering of tables, and jingling of glasses, announced that
the song had that instant terminated; and Mr. Pickwick, after desiring
Sam to solace himself in the tap, suffered himself to be conducted into
the presence of Mr. Lowten.

At the announcement of 'A gentleman to speak to you, Sir,' a puffy-faced
young man, who filled the chair at the head of the table, looked with
some surprise in the direction from whence the voice proceeded; and the
surprise seemed to be by no means diminished, when his eyes rested on an
individual whom he had never seen before.

'I beg your pardon, Sir,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'and I am very sorry
to disturb the other gentlemen, too, but I come on very particular
business; and if you will suffer me to detain you at this end of the
room for five minutes, I shall be very much obliged to you.'

The puffy-faced young man rose, and drawing a chair close to Mr.
Pickwick in an obscure corner of the room, listened attentively to his
tale of woe.

'Ah,'he said, when Mr. Pickwick had concluded, 'Dodson and Fogg--sharp
practice theirs--capital men of business, Dodson and Fogg, sir.'

Mr. Pickwick admitted the sharp practice of Dodson and Fogg, and Lowten
resumed. 'Perker ain't in town, and he won't be, neither, before the end
of next week; but if you want the action defended, and will leave the
copy with me, I can do all that's needful till he comes back.'

'That's exactly what I came here for,' said Mr. Pickwick, handing over
the document. 'If anything particular occurs, you can write to me at the
post-office, Ipswich.'

'That's all right,' replied Mr. Perker's clerk; and then seeing Mr.
Pickwick's eye wandering curiously towards the table, he added, 'will
you join us, for half an hour or so? We are capital company here
to-night. There's Samkin and Green's managing-clerk, and Smithers and
Price's chancery, and Pimkin and Thomas's out o' doors--sings a capital
song, he does--and Jack Bamber, and ever so many more. You're come out
of the country, I suppose. Would you like to join us?'

Mr. Pickwick could not resist so tempting an opportunity of studying
human nature. He suffered himself to be led to the table, where, after
having been introduced to the company in due form, he was accommodated
with a seat near the chairman and called for a glass of his favourite
beverage.

A profound silence, quite contrary to Mr. Pickwick's expectation,
succeeded. 'You don't find this sort of thing disagreeable, I hope,
sir?' said his right hand neighbour, a gentleman in a checked shirt and
Mosaic studs, with a cigar in his mouth.

'Not in the least,' replied Mr. Pickwick; 'I like it very much, although
I am no smoker myself.'

'I should be very sorry to say I wasn't,' interposed another gentleman
on the opposite side of the table. 'It's board and lodgings to me, is
smoke.'

Mr. Pickwick glanced at the speaker, and thought that if it were washing
too, it would be all the better.

Here there was another pause. Mr. Pickwick was a stranger, and his
coming had evidently cast a damp upon the party.

'Mr. Grundy's going to oblige the company with a song,' said the
chairman.

'No, he ain't,' said Mr. Grundy.

'Why not?' said the chairman.

'Because he can't,' said Mr. Grundy. 'You had better say he won't,'
replied the chairman.

'Well, then, he won't,' retorted Mr. Grundy. Mr. Grundy's positive
refusal to gratify the company occasioned another silence. 'Won't
anybody enliven us?' said the chairman, despondingly.

'Why don't you enliven us yourself, Mr. Chairman?' said a young man with
a whisker, a squint, and an open shirt collar (dirty), from the bottom
of the table.

'Hear! hear!' said the smoking gentleman, in the Mosaic jewellery.

'Because I only know one song, and I have sung it already, and it's a
fine of "glasses round" to sing the same song twice in a night,' replied
the chairman.

This was an unanswerable reply, and silence prevailed again.

'I have been to-night, gentlemen,' said Mr. Pickwick, hoping to start a
subject which all the company could take a part in discussing, 'I have
been to-night, in a place which you all know very well, doubtless, but
which I have not been in for some years, and know very little of; I
mean Gray's Inn, gentlemen. Curious little nooks in a great place, like
London, these old inns are.'

'By Jove!' said the chairman, whispering across the table to Mr.
Pickwick, 'you have hit upon something that one of us, at least, would
talk upon for ever. You'll draw old Jack Bamber out; he was never heard
to talk about anything else but the inns, and he has lived alone in them
till he's half crazy.'

The individual to whom Lowten alluded, was a little, yellow,
high-shouldered man, whose countenance, from his habit of stooping
forward when silent, Mr. Pickwick had not observed before. He wondered,
though, when the old man raised his shrivelled face, and bent his gray
eye upon him, with a keen inquiring look, that such remarkable features
could have escaped his attention for a moment. There was a fixed grim
smile perpetually on his countenance; he leaned his chin on a long,
skinny hand, with nails of extraordinary length; and as he inclined his
head to one side, and looked keenly out from beneath his ragged gray
eyebrows, there was a strange, wild slyness in his leer, quite repulsive
to behold.

This was the figure that now started forward, and burst into an animated
torrent of words. As this chapter has been a long one, however, and as
the old man was a remarkable personage, it will be more respectful to
him, and more convenient to us, to let him speak for himself in a fresh
one.



CHAPTER XXI. IN WHICH THE OLD MAN LAUNCHES FORTH INTO HIS FAVOURITE
THEME, AND RELATES A STORY ABOUT A QUEER CLIENT


Aha!' said the old man, a brief description of whose manner and
appearance concluded the last chapter, 'aha! who was talking about the
inns?'

'I was, Sir,' replied Mr. Pickwick--'I was observing what singular old
places they are.'

'YOU!' said the old man contemptuously. 'What do YOU know of the time
when young men shut themselves up in those lonely rooms, and read and
read, hour after hour, and night after night, till their reason wandered
beneath their midnight studies; till their mental powers were exhausted;
till morning's light brought no freshness or health to them; and they
sank beneath the unnatural devotion of their youthful energies to their
dry old books? Coming down to a later time, and a very different day,
what do YOU know of the gradual sinking beneath consumption, or
the quick wasting of fever--the grand results of "life" and
dissipation--which men have undergone in these same rooms? How many vain
pleaders for mercy, do you think, have turned away heart-sick from the
lawyer's office, to find a resting-place in the Thames, or a refuge in
the jail? They are no ordinary houses, those. There is not a panel in
the old wainscotting, but what, if it were endowed with the powers
of speech and memory, could start from the wall, and tell its tale of
horror--the romance of life, Sir, the romance of life! Common-place as
they may seem now, I tell you they are strange old places, and I would
rather hear many a legend with a terrific-sounding name, than the true
history of one old set of chambers.'

There was something so odd in the old man's sudden energy, and the
subject which had called it forth, that Mr. Pickwick was prepared with
no observation in reply; and the old man checking his impetuosity, and
resuming the leer, which had disappeared during his previous excitement,
said--

'Look at them in another light--their most common-place and least
romantic. What fine places of slow torture they are! Think of the needy
man who has spent his all, beggared himself, and pinched his friends, to
enter the profession, which is destined never to yield him a morsel
of bread. The waiting--the hope--the disappointment--the fear--the
misery--the poverty--the blight on his hopes, and end to his career--the
suicide perhaps, or the shabby, slipshod drunkard. Am I not right about
them?' And the old man rubbed his hands, and leered as if in delight
at having found another point of view in which to place his favourite
subject.

Mr. Pickwick eyed the old man with great curiosity, and the remainder of
the company smiled, and looked on in silence.

'Talk of your German universities,' said the little old man. 'Pooh,
pooh! there's romance enough at home without going half a mile for it;
only people never think of it.'

'I never thought of the romance of this particular subject before,
certainly,' said Mr. Pickwick, laughing. 'To be sure you didn't,' said
the little old man; 'of course not. As a friend of mine used to say to
me, "What is there in chambers in particular?" "Queer old places," said
I. "Not at all," said he. "Lonely," said I. "Not a bit of it," said he.
He died one morning of apoplexy, as he was going to open his outer door.
Fell with his head in his own letter-box, and there he lay for eighteen
months. Everybody thought he'd gone out of town.'

'And how was he found out at last?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.

'The benchers determined to have his door broken open, as he hadn't paid
any rent for two years. So they did. Forced the lock; and a very dusty
skeleton in a blue coat, black knee-shorts, and silks, fell forward
in the arms of the porter who opened the door. Queer, that. Rather,
perhaps; rather, eh?'The little old man put his head more on one side,
and rubbed his hands with unspeakable glee.

'I know another case,' said the little old man, when his chuckles had
in some degree subsided. 'It occurred in Clifford's Inn. Tenant of a top
set--bad character--shut himself up in his bedroom closet, and took a
dose of arsenic. The steward thought he had run away: opened the door,
and put a bill up. Another man came, took the chambers, furnished them,
and went to live there. Somehow or other he couldn't sleep--always
restless and uncomfortable. "Odd," says he. "I'll make the other room
my bedchamber, and this my sitting-room." He made the change, and slept
very well at night, but suddenly found that, somehow, he couldn't read
in the evening: he got nervous and uncomfortable, and used to be always
snuffing his candles and staring about him. "I can't make this out,"
said he, when he came home from the play one night, and was drinking a
glass of cold grog, with his back to the wall, in order that he mightn't
be able to fancy there was any one behind him--"I can't make it out,"
said he; and just then his eyes rested on the little closet that had
been always locked up, and a shudder ran through his whole frame from
top to toe. "I have felt this strange feeling before," said he, "I
cannot help thinking there's something wrong about that closet." He made
a strong effort, plucked up his courage, shivered the lock with a blow
or two of the poker, opened the door, and there, sure enough, standing
bolt upright in the corner, was the last tenant, with a little bottle
clasped firmly in his hand, and his face--well!' As the little old
man concluded, he looked round on the attentive faces of his wondering
auditory with a smile of grim delight.

'What strange things these are you tell us of, Sir,' said Mr. Pickwick,
minutely scanning the old man's countenance, by the aid of his glasses.

'Strange!' said the little old man. 'Nonsense; you think them strange,
because you know nothing about it. They are funny, but not uncommon.'

'Funny!' exclaimed Mr. Pickwick involuntarily. 'Yes, funny, are they
not?' replied the little old man, with a diabolical leer; and then,
without pausing for an answer, he continued--

'I knew another man--let me see--forty years ago now--who took an old,
damp, rotten set of chambers, in one of the most ancient inns, that had
been shut up and empty for years and years before. There were lots of
old women's stories about the place, and it certainly was very far from
being a cheerful one; but he was poor, and the rooms were cheap, and
that would have been quite a sufficient reason for him, if they had
been ten times worse than they really were. He was obliged to take some
mouldering fixtures that were on the place, and, among the rest, was a
great lumbering wooden press for papers, with large glass doors, and
a green curtain inside; a pretty useless thing for him, for he had no
papers to put in it; and as to his clothes, he carried them about with
him, and that wasn't very hard work, either. Well, he had moved in all
his furniture--it wasn't quite a truck-full--and had sprinkled it about
the room, so as to make the four chairs look as much like a dozen as
possible, and was sitting down before the fire at night, drinking the
first glass of two gallons of whisky he had ordered on credit, wondering
whether it would ever be paid for, and if so, in how many years' time,
when his eyes encountered the glass doors of the wooden press. "Ah,"
says he, "if I hadn't been obliged to take that ugly article at the
old broker's valuation, I might have got something comfortable for the
money. I'll tell you what it is, old fellow," he said, speaking aloud to
the press, having nothing else to speak to, "if it wouldn't cost more
to break up your old carcass, than it would ever be worth afterward, I'd
have a fire out of you in less than no time." He had hardly spoken the
words, when a sound resembling a faint groan, appeared to issue from
the interior of the case. It startled him at first, but thinking, on
a moment's reflection, that it must be some young fellow in the next
chamber, who had been dining out, he put his feet on the fender,
and raised the poker to stir the fire. At that moment, the sound was
repeated; and one of the glass doors slowly opening, disclosed a pale
and emaciated figure in soiled and worn apparel, standing erect in the
press. The figure was tall and thin, and the countenance expressive of
care and anxiety; but there was something in the hue of the skin, and
gaunt and unearthly appearance of the whole form, which no being of this
world was ever seen to wear. "Who are you?" said the new tenant, turning
very pale; poising the poker in his hand, however, and taking a very
decent aim at the countenance of the figure. "Who are you?" "Don't throw
that poker at me," replied the form; "if you hurled it with ever so sure
an aim, it would pass through me, without resistance, and expend its
force on the wood behind. I am a spirit." "And pray, what do you want
here?" faltered the tenant. "In this room," replied the apparition, "my
worldly ruin was worked, and I and my children beggared. In this press,
the papers in a long, long suit, which accumulated for years, were
deposited. In this room, when I had died of grief, and long-deferred
hope, two wily harpies divided the wealth for which I had contested
during a wretched existence, and of which, at last, not one farthing
was left for my unhappy descendants. I terrified them from the spot,
and since that day have prowled by night--the only period at which I can
revisit the earth--about the scenes of my long-protracted misery. This
apartment is mine: leave it to me." "If you insist upon making your
appearance here," said the tenant, who had had time to collect his
presence of mind during this prosy statement of the ghost's, "I shall
give up possession with the greatest pleasure; but I should like to ask
you one question, if you will allow me." "Say on," said the apparition
sternly. "Well," said the tenant, "I don't apply the observation
personally to you, because it is equally applicable to most of the
ghosts I ever heard of; but it does appear to me somewhat inconsistent,
that when you have an opportunity of visiting the fairest spots of
earth--for I suppose space is nothing to you--you should always return
exactly to the very places where you have been most miserable." "Egad,
that's very true; I never thought of that before," said the ghost. "You
see, Sir," pursued the tenant, "this is a very uncomfortable room. From
the appearance of that press, I should be disposed to say that it is
not wholly free from bugs; and I really think you might find much more
comfortable quarters: to say nothing of the climate of London, which
is extremely disagreeable." "You are very right, Sir," said the
ghost politely, "it never struck me till now; I'll try change of air
directly"--and, in fact, he began to vanish as he spoke; his legs,
indeed, had quite disappeared. "And if, Sir," said the tenant, calling
after him, "if you WOULD have the goodness to suggest to the other
ladies and gentlemen who are now engaged in haunting old empty houses,
that they might be much more comfortable elsewhere, you will confer a
very great benefit on society." "I will," replied the ghost; "we must be
dull fellows--very dull fellows, indeed; I can't imagine how we can have
been so stupid." With these words, the spirit disappeared; and what
is rather remarkable,' added the old man, with a shrewd look round the
table, 'he never came back again.'

'That ain't bad, if it's true,' said the man in the Mosaic studs,
lighting a fresh cigar.

'IF!' exclaimed the old man, with a look of excessive contempt. 'I
suppose,' he added, turning to Lowten, 'he'll say next, that my story
about the queer client we had, when I was in an attorney's office, is
not true either--I shouldn't wonder.'

'I shan't venture to say anything at all about it, seeing that I never
heard the story,' observed the owner of the Mosaic decorations.

'I wish you would repeat it, Sir,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Ah, do,' said Lowten, 'nobody has heard it but me, and I have nearly
forgotten it.'

The old man looked round the table, and leered more horribly than ever,
as if in triumph, at the attention which was depicted in every face.
Then rubbing his chin with his hand, and looking up to the ceiling as if
to recall the circumstances to his memory, he began as follows:--


  THE OLD MAN'S TALE ABOUT THE QUEER CLIENT

'It matters little,' said the old man, 'where, or how, I picked up this
brief history. If I were to relate it in the order in which it reached
me, I should commence in the middle, and when I had arrived at the
conclusion, go back for a beginning. It is enough for me to say that
some of its circumstances passed before my own eyes; for the remainder
I know them to have happened, and there are some persons yet living, who
will remember them but too well.

'In the Borough High Street, near St. George's Church, and on the
same side of the way, stands, as most people know, the smallest of our
debtors' prisons, the Marshalsea. Although in later times it has been a
very different place from the sink of filth and dirt it once was,
even its improved condition holds out but little temptation to the
extravagant, or consolation to the improvident. The condemned felon has
as good a yard for air and exercise in Newgate, as the insolvent debtor
in the Marshalsea Prison. [Better. But this is past, in a better age,
and the prison exists no longer.]

'It may be my fancy, or it may be that I cannot separate the place from
the old recollections associated with it, but this part of London I
cannot bear. The street is broad, the shops are spacious, the noise of
passing vehicles, the footsteps of a perpetual stream of people--all
the busy sounds of traffic, resound in it from morn to midnight; but the
streets around are mean and close; poverty and debauchery lie festering
in the crowded alleys; want and misfortune are pent up in the narrow
prison; an air of gloom and dreariness seems, in my eyes at least, to
hang about the scene, and to impart to it a squalid and sickly hue.

'Many eyes, that have long since been closed in the grave, have looked
round upon that scene lightly enough, when entering the gate of the old
Marshalsea Prison for the first time; for despair seldom comes with
the first severe shock of misfortune. A man has confidence in untried
friends, he remembers the many offers of service so freely made by his
boon companions when he wanted them not; he has hope--the hope of
happy inexperience--and however he may bend beneath the first shock, it
springs up in his bosom, and flourishes there for a brief space, until
it droops beneath the blight of disappointment and neglect. How soon
have those same eyes, deeply sunken in the head, glared from faces
wasted with famine, and sallow from confinement, in days when it was no
figure of speech to say that debtors rotted in prison, with no hope of
release, and no prospect of liberty! The atrocity in its full extent
no longer exists, but there is enough of it left to give rise to
occurrences that make the heart bleed.

'Twenty years ago, that pavement was worn with the footsteps of a mother
and child, who, day by day, so surely as the morning came, presented
themselves at the prison gate; often after a night of restless misery
and anxious thoughts, were they there, a full hour too soon, and then
the young mother turning meekly away, would lead the child to the old
bridge, and raising him in her arms to show him the glistening water,
tinted with the light of the morning's sun, and stirring with all the
bustling preparations for business and pleasure that the river presented
at that early hour, endeavour to interest his thoughts in the objects
before him. But she would quickly set him down, and hiding her face in
her shawl, give vent to the tears that blinded her; for no expression
of interest or amusement lighted up his thin and sickly face. His
recollections were few enough, but they were all of one kind--all
connected with the poverty and misery of his parents. Hour after hour
had he sat on his mother's knee, and with childish sympathy watched the
tears that stole down her face, and then crept quietly away into some
dark corner, and sobbed himself to sleep. The hard realities of the
world, with many of its worst privations--hunger and thirst, and cold
and want--had all come home to him, from the first dawnings of reason;
and though the form of childhood was there, its light heart, its merry
laugh, and sparkling eyes were wanting. 'The father and mother looked
on upon this, and upon each other, with thoughts of agony they dared
not breathe in words. The healthy, strong-made man, who could have borne
almost any fatigue of active exertion, was wasting beneath the close
confinement and unhealthy atmosphere of a crowded prison. The slight and
delicate woman was sinking beneath the combined effects of bodily and
mental illness. The child's young heart was breaking.

'Winter came, and with it weeks of cold and heavy rain. The poor girl
had removed to a wretched apartment close to the spot of her husband's
imprisonment; and though the change had been rendered necessary by their
increasing poverty, she was happier now, for she was nearer him. For two
months, she and her little companion watched the opening of the gate as
usual. One day she failed to come, for the first time. Another morning
arrived, and she came alone. The child was dead.

'They little know, who coldly talk of the poor man's bereavements, as
a happy release from pain to the departed, and a merciful relief from
expense to the survivor--they little know, I say, what the agony of
those bereavements is. A silent look of affection and regard when all
other eyes are turned coldly away--the consciousness that we possess the
sympathy and affection of one being when all others have deserted us--is
a hold, a stay, a comfort, in the deepest affliction, which no wealth
could purchase, or power bestow. The child had sat at his parents'
feet for hours together, with his little hands patiently folded in each
other, and his thin wan face raised towards them. They had seen him pine
away, from day to day; and though his brief existence had been a joyless
one, and he was now removed to that peace and rest which, child as he
was, he had never known in this world, they were his parents, and his
loss sank deep into their souls.

'It was plain to those who looked upon the mother's altered face,
that death must soon close the scene of her adversity and trial. Her
husband's fellow-prisoners shrank from obtruding on his grief and
misery, and left to himself alone, the small room he had previously
occupied in common with two companions. She shared it with him; and
lingering on without pain, but without hope, her life ebbed slowly away.

'She had fainted one evening in her husband's arms, and he had borne her
to the open window, to revive her with the air, when the light of the
moon falling full upon her face, showed him a change upon her features,
which made him stagger beneath her weight, like a helpless infant.

'"Set me down, George," she said faintly. He did so, and seating himself
beside her, covered his face with his hands, and burst into tears.

'"It is very hard to leave you, George," she said; "but it is God's
will, and you must bear it for my sake. Oh! how I thank Him for having
taken our boy! He is happy, and in heaven now. What would he have done
here, without his mother!"

'"You shall not die, Mary, you shall not die;" said the husband,
starting up. He paced hurriedly to and fro, striking his head with his
clenched fists; then reseating himself beside her, and supporting her in
his arms, added more calmly, "Rouse yourself, my dear girl. Pray, pray
do. You will revive yet."

'"Never again, George; never again," said the dying woman. "Let them
lay me by my poor boy now, but promise me, that if ever you leave this
dreadful place, and should grow rich, you will have us removed to
some quiet country churchyard, a long, long way off--very far from
here--where we can rest in peace. Dear George, promise me you will."

'"I do, I do," said the man, throwing himself passionately on his knees
before her. "Speak to me, Mary, another word; one look--but one!"

'He ceased to speak: for the arm that clasped his neck grew stiff and
heavy. A deep sigh escaped from the wasted form before him; the lips
moved, and a smile played upon the face; but the lips were pallid, and
the smile faded into a rigid and ghastly stare. He was alone in the
world.

'That night, in the silence and desolation of his miserable room, the
wretched man knelt down by the dead body of his wife, and called on God
to witness a terrible oath, that from that hour, he devoted himself to
revenge her death and that of his child; that thenceforth to the last
moment of his life, his whole energies should be directed to this one
object; that his revenge should be protracted and terrible; that his
hatred should be undying and inextinguishable; and should hunt its
object through the world.

'The deepest despair, and passion scarcely human, had made such fierce
ravages on his face and form, in that one night, that his companions
in misfortune shrank affrighted from him as he passed by. His eyes were
bloodshot and heavy, his face a deadly white, and his body bent as if
with age. He had bitten his under lip nearly through in the violence of
his mental suffering, and the blood which had flowed from the wound had
trickled down his chin, and stained his shirt and neckerchief. No
tear, or sound of complaint escaped him; but the unsettled look, and
disordered haste with which he paced up and down the yard, denoted the
fever which was burning within.

'It was necessary that his wife's body should be removed from the
prison, without delay. He received the communication with perfect
calmness, and acquiesced in its propriety. Nearly all the inmates of the
prison had assembled to witness its removal; they fell back on either
side when the widower appeared; he walked hurriedly forward, and
stationed himself, alone, in a little railed area close to the lodge
gate, from whence the crowd, with an instinctive feeling of delicacy,
had retired. The rude coffin was borne slowly forward on men's
shoulders. A dead silence pervaded the throng, broken only by the
audible lamentations of the women, and the shuffling steps of the
bearers on the stone pavement. They reached the spot where the bereaved
husband stood: and stopped. He laid his hand upon the coffin, and
mechanically adjusting the pall with which it was covered, motioned
them onward. The turnkeys in the prison lobby took off their hats as it
passed through, and in another moment the heavy gate closed behind it.
He looked vacantly upon the crowd, and fell heavily to the ground.

'Although for many weeks after this, he was watched, night and day, in
the wildest ravings of fever, neither the consciousness of his loss,
nor the recollection of the vow he had made, ever left him for a
moment. Scenes changed before his eyes, place succeeded place, and
event followed event, in all the hurry of delirium; but they were all
connected in some way with the great object of his mind. He was sailing
over a boundless expanse of sea, with a blood-red sky above, and the
angry waters, lashed into fury beneath, boiling and eddying up, on every
side. There was another vessel before them, toiling and labouring in the
howling storm; her canvas fluttering in ribbons from the mast, and her
deck thronged with figures who were lashed to the sides, over which huge
waves every instant burst, sweeping away some devoted creatures into the
foaming sea. Onward they bore, amidst the roaring mass of water, with a
speed and force which nothing could resist; and striking the stem of the
foremost vessel, crushed her beneath their keel. From the huge
whirlpool which the sinking wreck occasioned, arose a shriek so loud and
shrill--the death-cry of a hundred drowning creatures, blended into one
fierce yell--that it rung far above the war-cry of the elements, and
echoed, and re-echoed till it seemed to pierce air, sky, and ocean. But
what was that--that old gray head that rose above the water's surface,
and with looks of agony, and screams for aid, buffeted with the waves!
One look, and he had sprung from the vessel's side, and with vigorous
strokes was swimming towards it. He reached it; he was close upon it.
They were HIS features. The old man saw him coming, and vainly strove to
elude his grasp. But he clasped him tight, and dragged him beneath
the water. Down, down with him, fifty fathoms down; his struggles grew
fainter and fainter, until they wholly ceased. He was dead; he had
killed him, and had kept his oath.

'He was traversing the scorching sands of a mighty desert, barefoot and
alone. The sand choked and blinded him; its fine thin grains entered the
very pores of his skin, and irritated him almost to madness. Gigantic
masses of the same material, carried forward by the wind, and shone
through by the burning sun, stalked in the distance like pillars of
living fire. The bones of men, who had perished in the dreary waste, lay
scattered at his feet; a fearful light fell on everything around; so
far as the eye could reach, nothing but objects of dread and horror
presented themselves. Vainly striving to utter a cry of terror, with
his tongue cleaving to his mouth, he rushed madly forward. Armed with
supernatural strength, he waded through the sand, until, exhausted
with fatigue and thirst, he fell senseless on the earth. What fragrant
coolness revived him; what gushing sound was that? Water! It was indeed
a well; and the clear fresh stream was running at his feet. He drank
deeply of it, and throwing his aching limbs upon the bank, sank into a
delicious trance. The sound of approaching footsteps roused him. An old
gray-headed man tottered forward to slake his burning thirst. It was HE
again! Fe wound his arms round the old man's body, and held him back. He
struggled, and shrieked for water--for but one drop of water to save
his life! But he held the old man firmly, and watched his agonies with
greedy eyes; and when his lifeless head fell forward on his bosom, he
rolled the corpse from him with his feet.

'When the fever left him, and consciousness returned, he awoke to find
himself rich and free, to hear that the parent who would have let him
die in jail--WOULD! who HAD let those who were far dearer to him than
his own existence die of want, and sickness of heart that medicine
cannot cure--had been found dead in his bed of down. He had had all
the heart to leave his son a beggar, but proud even of his health and
strength, had put off the act till it was too late, and now might
gnash his teeth in the other world, at the thought of the wealth his
remissness had left him. He awoke to this, and he awoke to more. To
recollect the purpose for which he lived, and to remember that his enemy
was his wife's own father--the man who had cast him into prison, and
who, when his daughter and her child sued at his feet for mercy,
had spurned them from his door. Oh, how he cursed the weakness that
prevented him from being up, and active, in his scheme of vengeance! 'He
caused himself to be carried from the scene of his loss and misery,
and conveyed to a quiet residence on the sea-coast; not in the hope of
recovering his peace of mind or happiness, for both were fled for ever;
but to restore his prostrate energies, and meditate on his darling
object. And here, some evil spirit cast in his way the opportunity for
his first, most horrible revenge.

'It was summer-time; and wrapped in his gloomy thoughts, he would issue
from his solitary lodgings early in the evening, and wandering along
a narrow path beneath the cliffs, to a wild and lonely spot that had
struck his fancy in his ramblings, seat himself on some fallen fragment
of the rock, and burying his face in his hands, remain there for
hours--sometimes until night had completely closed in, and the long
shadows of the frowning cliffs above his head cast a thick, black
darkness on every object near him.

'He was seated here, one calm evening, in his old position, now and then
raising his head to watch the flight of a sea-gull, or carry his eye
along the glorious crimson path, which, commencing in the middle of the
ocean, seemed to lead to its very verge where the sun was setting, when
the profound stillness of the spot was broken by a loud cry for help; he
listened, doubtful of his having heard aright, when the cry was repeated
with even greater vehemence than before, and, starting to his feet, he
hastened in the direction whence it proceeded.

'The tale told itself at once: some scattered garments lay on the beach;
a human head was just visible above the waves at a little distance from
the shore; and an old man, wringing his hands in agony, was running to
and fro, shrieking for assistance. The invalid, whose strength was now
sufficiently restored, threw off his coat, and rushed towards the sea,
with the intention of plunging in, and dragging the drowning man ashore.

'"Hasten here, Sir, in God's name; help, help, sir, for the love of
Heaven. He is my son, Sir, my only son!" said the old man frantically,
as he advanced to meet him. "My only son, Sir, and he is dying before
his father's eyes!"

'At the first word the old man uttered, the stranger checked himself in
his career, and, folding his arms, stood perfectly motionless.

'"Great God!" exclaimed the old man, recoiling, "Heyling!"

'The stranger smiled, and was silent.

'"Heyling!" said the old man wildly; "my boy, Heyling, my dear boy,
look, look!" Gasping for breath, the miserable father pointed to the
spot where the young man was struggling for life.

'"Hark!" said the old man. "He cries once more. He is alive yet.
Heyling, save him, save him!"

'The stranger smiled again, and remained immovable as a statue. '"I have
wronged you," shrieked the old man, falling on his knees, and clasping
his hands together. "Be revenged; take my all, my life; cast me into the
water at your feet, and, if human nature can repress a struggle, I will
die, without stirring hand or foot. Do it, Heyling, do it, but save my
boy; he is so young, Heyling, so young to die!"

'"Listen," said the stranger, grasping the old man fiercely by the
wrist; "I will have life for life, and here is ONE. MY child died,
before his father's eyes, a far more agonising and painful death than
that young slanderer of his sister's worth is meeting while I speak. You
laughed--laughed in your daughter's face, where death had already set
his hand--at our sufferings, then. What think you of them now! See
there, see there!"

'As the stranger spoke, he pointed to the sea. A faint cry died away
upon its surface; the last powerful struggle of the dying man agitated
the rippling waves for a few seconds; and the spot where he had gone
down into his early grave, was undistinguishable from the surrounding
water.

'Three years had elapsed, when a gentleman alighted from a private
carriage at the door of a London attorney, then well known as a man of
no great nicety in his professional dealings, and requested a private
interview on business of importance. Although evidently not past the
prime of life, his face was pale, haggard, and dejected; and it did not
require the acute perception of the man of business, to discern at a
glance, that disease or suffering had done more to work a change in his
appearance, than the mere hand of time could have accomplished in twice
the period of his whole life.

'"I wish you to undertake some legal business for me," said the
stranger.

'The attorney bowed obsequiously, and glanced at a large packet which
the gentleman carried in his hand. His visitor observed the look, and
proceeded.

'"It is no common business," said he; "nor have these papers reached my
hands without long trouble and great expense."

'The attorney cast a still more anxious look at the packet; and his
visitor, untying the string that bound it, disclosed a quantity of
promissory notes, with copies of deeds, and other documents.

'"Upon these papers," said the client, "the man whose name they bear,
has raised, as you will see, large sums of money, for years past. There
was a tacit understanding between him and the men into whose hands they
originally went--and from whom I have by degrees purchased the whole,
for treble and quadruple their nominal value--that these loans should
be from time to time renewed, until a given period had elapsed. Such
an understanding is nowhere expressed. He has sustained many losses of
late; and these obligations accumulating upon him at once, would crush
him to the earth."

'"The whole amount is many thousands of pounds," said the attorney,
looking over the papers.

'"It is," said the client.

'"What are we to do?" inquired the man of business.

'"Do!" replied the client, with sudden vehemence. "Put every engine of
the law in force, every trick that ingenuity can devise and rascality
execute; fair means and foul; the open oppression of the law, aided by
all the craft of its most ingenious practitioners. I would have him die
a harassing and lingering death. Ruin him, seize and sell his lands and
goods, drive him from house and home, and drag him forth a beggar in his
old age, to die in a common jail."

'"But the costs, my dear Sir, the costs of all this," reasoned the
attorney, when he had recovered from his momentary surprise. "If the
defendant be a man of straw, who is to pay the costs, Sir?"

'"Name any sum," said the stranger, his hand trembling so violently
with excitement, that he could scarcely hold the pen he seized as he
spoke--"any sum, and it is yours. Don't be afraid to name it, man. I
shall not think it dear, if you gain my object."

'The attorney named a large sum, at hazard, as the advance he should
require to secure himself against the possibility of loss; but more with
the view of ascertaining how far his client was really disposed to go,
than with any idea that he would comply with the demand. The stranger
wrote a cheque upon his banker, for the whole amount, and left him.

'The draft was duly honoured, and the attorney, finding that his strange
client might be safely relied upon, commenced his work in earnest.
For more than two years afterwards, Mr. Heyling would sit whole days
together, in the office, poring over the papers as they accumulated,
and reading again and again, his eyes gleaming with joy, the letters of
remonstrance, the prayers for a little delay, the representations of the
certain ruin in which the opposite party must be involved, which poured
in, as suit after suit, and process after process, was commenced. To all
applications for a brief indulgence, there was but one reply--the money
must be paid. Land, house, furniture, each in its turn, was taken under
some one of the numerous executions which were issued; and the old
man himself would have been immured in prison had he not escaped the
vigilance of the officers, and fled.

'The implacable animosity of Heyling, so far from being satiated by the
success of his persecution, increased a hundredfold with the ruin he
inflicted. On being informed of the old man's flight, his fury was
unbounded. He gnashed his teeth with rage, tore the hair from his head,
and assailed with horrid imprecations the men who had been intrusted
with the writ. He was only restored to comparative calmness by repeated
assurances of the certainty of discovering the fugitive. Agents were
sent in quest of him, in all directions; every stratagem that could be
invented was resorted to, for the purpose of discovering his place of
retreat; but it was all in vain. Half a year had passed over, and he was
still undiscovered.

'At length late one night, Heyling, of whom nothing had been seen for
many weeks before, appeared at his attorney's private residence, and
sent up word that a gentleman wished to see him instantly. Before the
attorney, who had recognised his voice from above stairs, could order
the servant to admit him, he had rushed up the staircase, and entered
the drawing-room pale and breathless. Having closed the door, to prevent
being overheard, he sank into a chair, and said, in a low voice--

'"Hush! I have found him at last."

'"No!" said the attorney. "Well done, my dear sir, well done."

'"He lies concealed in a wretched lodging in Camden Town," said Heyling.
"Perhaps it is as well we DID lose sight of him, for he has been
living alone there, in the most abject misery, all the time, and he is
poor--very poor."

'"Very good," said the attorney. "You will have the caption made
to-morrow, of course?"

'"Yes," replied Heyling. "Stay! No! The next day. You are surprised at
my wishing to postpone it," he added, with a ghastly smile; "but I had
forgotten. The next day is an anniversary in his life: let it be done
then."

'"Very good," said the attorney. "Will you write down instructions for
the officer?"

'"No; let him meet me here, at eight in the evening, and I will
accompany him myself."

'They met on the appointed night, and, hiring a hackney-coach, directed
the driver to stop at that corner of the old Pancras Road, at which
stands the parish workhouse. By the time they alighted there, it was
quite dark; and, proceeding by the dead wall in front of the Veterinary
Hospital, they entered a small by-street, which is, or was at that time,
called Little College Street, and which, whatever it may be now, was
in those days a desolate place enough, surrounded by little else than
fields and ditches.

'Having drawn the travelling-cap he had on half over his face, and
muffled himself in his cloak, Heyling stopped before the meanest-looking
house in the street, and knocked gently at the door. It was at once
opened by a woman, who dropped a curtsey of recognition, and Heyling,
whispering the officer to remain below, crept gently upstairs, and,
opening the door of the front room, entered at once.

'The object of his search and his unrelenting animosity, now a decrepit
old man, was seated at a bare deal table, on which stood a miserable
candle. He started on the entrance of the stranger, and rose feebly to
his feet.

'"What now, what now?" said the old man. "What fresh misery is this?
What do you want here?"

'"A word with YOU," replied Heyling. As he spoke, he seated himself
at the other end of the table, and, throwing off his cloak and cap,
disclosed his features.

'The old man seemed instantly deprived of speech. He fell backward in
his chair, and, clasping his hands together, gazed on the apparition
with a mingled look of abhorrence and fear.

'"This day six years," said Heyling, "I claimed the life you owed me for
my child's. Beside the lifeless form of your daughter, old man, I swore
to live a life of revenge. I have never swerved from my purpose for
a moment's space; but if I had, one thought of her uncomplaining,
suffering look, as she drooped away, or of the starving face of our
innocent child, would have nerved me to my task. My first act of
requital you well remember: this is my last."

'The old man shivered, and his hands dropped powerless by his side.

'"I leave England to-morrow," said Heyling, after a moment's pause.
"To-night I consign you to the living death to which you devoted her--a
hopeless prison--"

'He raised his eyes to the old man's countenance, and paused. He lifted
the light to his face, set it gently down, and left the apartment.

'"You had better see to the old man," he said to the woman, as he opened
the door, and motioned the officer to follow him into the street. "I
think he is ill." The woman closed the door, ran hastily upstairs, and
found him lifeless.


'Beneath a plain gravestone, in one of the most peaceful and secluded
churchyards in Kent, where wild flowers mingle with the grass, and the
soft landscape around forms the fairest spot in the garden of England,
lie the bones of the young mother and her gentle child. But the ashes of
the father do not mingle with theirs; nor, from that night forward, did
the attorney ever gain the remotest clue to the subsequent history of
his queer client.' As the old man concluded his tale, he advanced to a
peg in one corner, and taking down his hat and coat, put them on with
great deliberation; and, without saying another word, walked slowly
away. As the gentleman with the Mosaic studs had fallen asleep, and the
major part of the company were deeply occupied in the humorous process
of dropping melted tallow-grease into his brandy-and-water, Mr. Pickwick
departed unnoticed, and having settled his own score, and that of Mr.
Weller, issued forth, in company with that gentleman, from beneath the
portal of the Magpie and Stump.



CHAPTER XXII. Mr. PICKWICK JOURNEYS TO IPSWICH AND MEETS WITH A ROMANTIC
ADVENTURE WITH A MIDDLE-AGED LADY IN YELLOW CURL-PAPERS


'That 'ere your governor's luggage, Sammy?' inquired Mr. Weller of his
affectionate son, as he entered the yard of the Bull Inn, Whitechapel,
with a travelling-bag and a small portmanteau.

'You might ha' made a worser guess than that, old feller,' replied Mr.
Weller the younger, setting down his burden in the yard, and sitting
himself down upon it afterwards. 'The governor hisself'll be down here
presently.'

'He's a-cabbin' it, I suppose?' said the father.

'Yes, he's a havin' two mile o' danger at eight-pence,' responded the
son. 'How's mother-in-law this mornin'?'

'Queer, Sammy, queer,' replied the elder Mr. Weller, with impressive
gravity. 'She's been gettin' rayther in the Methodistical order lately,
Sammy; and she is uncommon pious, to be sure. She's too good a creetur
for me, Sammy. I feel I don't deserve her.'

'Ah,' said Mr. Samuel. 'that's wery self-denyin' o' you.'

'Wery,' replied his parent, with a sigh. 'She's got hold o' some
inwention for grown-up people being born again, Sammy--the new birth,
I think they calls it. I should wery much like to see that system in
haction, Sammy. I should wery much like to see your mother-in-law born
again. Wouldn't I put her out to nurse!'

'What do you think them women does t'other day,' continued Mr. Weller,
after a short pause, during which he had significantly struck the side
of his nose with his forefinger some half-dozen times. 'What do you
think they does, t'other day, Sammy?'

'Don't know,' replied Sam, 'what?'

'Goes and gets up a grand tea drinkin' for a feller they calls their
shepherd,' said Mr. Weller. 'I was a-standing starin' in at the pictur
shop down at our place, when I sees a little bill about it; "tickets
half-a-crown. All applications to be made to the committee. Secretary,
Mrs. Weller"; and when I got home there was the committee a-sittin' in
our back parlour. Fourteen women; I wish you could ha' heard 'em, Sammy.
There they was, a-passin' resolutions, and wotin' supplies, and all
sorts o' games. Well, what with your mother-in-law a-worrying me to go,
and what with my looking for'ard to seein' some queer starts if I did,
I put my name down for a ticket; at six o'clock on the Friday evenin' I
dresses myself out wery smart, and off I goes with the old 'ooman, and
up we walks into a fust-floor where there was tea-things for thirty, and
a whole lot o' women as begins whisperin' to one another, and lookin' at
me, as if they'd never seen a rayther stout gen'l'm'n of eight-and-fifty
afore. By and by, there comes a great bustle downstairs, and a lanky
chap with a red nose and a white neckcloth rushes up, and sings out,
"Here's the shepherd a-coming to wisit his faithful flock;" and in
comes a fat chap in black, vith a great white face, a-smilin' avay
like clockwork. Such goin's on, Sammy! "The kiss of peace," says the
shepherd; and then he kissed the women all round, and ven he'd done,
the man vith the red nose began. I was just a-thinkin' whether I hadn't
better begin too--'specially as there was a wery nice lady a-sittin'
next me--ven in comes the tea, and your mother-in-law, as had been
makin' the kettle bile downstairs. At it they went, tooth and nail. Such
a precious loud hymn, Sammy, while the tea was a brewing; such a grace,
such eatin' and drinkin'! I wish you could ha' seen the shepherd
walkin' into the ham and muffins. I never see such a chap to eat and
drink--never. The red-nosed man warn't by no means the sort of person
you'd like to grub by contract, but he was nothin' to the shepherd.
Well; arter the tea was over, they sang another hymn, and then the
shepherd began to preach: and wery well he did it, considerin' how heavy
them muffins must have lied on his chest. Presently he pulls up, all of
a sudden, and hollers out, "Where is the sinner; where is the mis'rable
sinner?" Upon which, all the women looked at me, and began to groan as
if they was a-dying. I thought it was rather sing'ler, but howsoever, I
says nothing. Presently he pulls up again, and lookin' wery hard at me,
says, "Where is the sinner; where is the mis'rable sinner?" and all the
women groans again, ten times louder than afore. I got rather savage at
this, so I takes a step or two for'ard and says, "My friend," says I,
"did you apply that 'ere obserwation to me?" 'Stead of beggin' my pardon
as any gen'l'm'n would ha' done, he got more abusive than ever:--called
me a wessel, Sammy--a wessel of wrath--and all sorts o' names. So my
blood being reg'larly up, I first gave him two or three for himself, and
then two or three more to hand over to the man with the red nose, and
walked off. I wish you could ha' heard how the women screamed, Sammy,
ven they picked up the shepherd from underneath the table--Hollo! here's
the governor, the size of life.'

As Mr. Weller spoke, Mr. Pickwick dismounted from a cab, and entered the
yard. 'Fine mornin', Sir,' said Mr. Weller, senior.

'Beautiful indeed,' replied Mr. Pickwick.

'Beautiful indeed,' echoes a red-haired man with an inquisitive nose and
green spectacles, who had unpacked himself from a cab at the same moment
as Mr. Pickwick. 'Going to Ipswich, Sir?'

'I am,' replied Mr. Pickwick.

'Extraordinary coincidence. So am I.'

Mr. Pickwick bowed.

'Going outside?' said the red-haired man. Mr. Pickwick bowed again.

'Bless my soul, how remarkable--I am going outside, too,' said the
red-haired man; 'we are positively going together.' And the red-haired
man, who was an important-looking, sharp-nosed, mysterious-spoken
personage, with a bird-like habit of giving his head a jerk every
time he said anything, smiled as if he had made one of the strangest
discoveries that ever fell to the lot of human wisdom.

'I am happy in the prospect of your company, Sir,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Ah,' said the new-comer, 'it's a good thing for both of us, isn't it?
Company, you see--company--is--is--it's a very different thing from
solitude--ain't it?'

'There's no denying that 'ere,' said Mr. Weller, joining in the
conversation, with an affable smile. 'That's what I call a self-evident
proposition, as the dog's-meat man said, when the housemaid told him he
warn't a gentleman.'

'Ah,' said the red-haired man, surveying Mr. Weller from head to foot
with a supercilious look. 'Friend of yours, sir?'

'Not exactly a friend,' replied Mr. Pickwick, in a low tone. 'The fact
is, he is my servant, but I allow him to take a good many liberties;
for, between ourselves, I flatter myself he is an original, and I am
rather proud of him.'

'Ah,' said the red-haired man, 'that, you see, is a matter of taste.
I am not fond of anything original; I don't like it; don't see the
necessity for it. What's your name, sir?'

'Here is my card, sir,' replied Mr. Pickwick, much amused by the
abruptness of the question, and the singular manner of the stranger.

'Ah,' said the red-haired man, placing the card in his pocket-book,
'Pickwick; very good. I like to know a man's name, it saves so much
trouble. That's my card, sir. Magnus, you will perceive, sir--Magnus is
my name. It's rather a good name, I think, sir.'

'A very good name, indeed,' said Mr. Pickwick, wholly unable to repress
a smile.

'Yes, I think it is,' resumed Mr. Magnus. 'There's a good name before
it, too, you will observe. Permit me, sir--if you hold the card a little
slanting, this way, you catch the light upon the up-stroke. There--Peter
Magnus--sounds well, I think, sir.'

'Very,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Curious circumstance about those initials, sir,' said Mr. Magnus.
'You will observe--P.M.--post meridian. In hasty notes to intimate
acquaintance, I sometimes sign myself "Afternoon." It amuses my friends
very much, Mr. Pickwick.'

'It is calculated to afford them the highest gratification, I should
conceive,' said Mr. Pickwick, rather envying the ease with which Mr.
Magnus's friends were entertained.

'Now, gen'l'm'n,' said the hostler, 'coach is ready, if you please.'

'Is all my luggage in?' inquired Mr. Magnus.

'All right, sir.'

'Is the red bag in?'

'All right, Sir.'

'And the striped bag?'

'Fore boot, Sir.'

'And the brown-paper parcel?'

'Under the seat, Sir.'

'And the leather hat-box?'

'They're all in, Sir.'

'Now, will you get up?' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Excuse me,' replied Magnus, standing on the wheel. 'Excuse me, Mr.
Pickwick. I cannot consent to get up, in this state of uncertainty. I am
quite satisfied from that man's manner, that the leather hat-box is not
in.'

The solemn protestations of the hostler being wholly unavailing, the
leather hat-box was obliged to be raked up from the lowest depth of the
boot, to satisfy him that it had been safely packed; and after he had
been assured on this head, he felt a solemn presentiment, first, that
the red bag was mislaid, and next that the striped bag had been stolen,
and then that the brown-paper parcel 'had come untied.' At length when
he had received ocular demonstration of the groundless nature of each
and every of these suspicions, he consented to climb up to the roof of
the coach, observing that now he had taken everything off his mind, he
felt quite comfortable and happy.

'You're given to nervousness, ain't you, Sir?' inquired Mr. Weller,
senior, eyeing the stranger askance, as he mounted to his place.

'Yes; I always am rather about these little matters,' said the stranger,
'but I am all right now--quite right.'

'Well, that's a blessin', said Mr. Weller. 'Sammy, help your master up
to the box; t'other leg, Sir, that's it; give us your hand, Sir. Up with
you. You was a lighter weight when you was a boy, sir.' 'True enough,
that, Mr. Weller,' said the breathless Mr. Pickwick good-humouredly, as
he took his seat on the box beside him.

'Jump up in front, Sammy,' said Mr. Weller. 'Now Villam, run 'em out.
Take care o' the archvay, gen'l'm'n. "Heads," as the pieman says.
That'll do, Villam. Let 'em alone.' And away went the coach up
Whitechapel, to the admiration of the whole population of that pretty
densely populated quarter.

'Not a wery nice neighbourhood, this, Sir,' said Sam, with a touch of
the hat, which always preceded his entering into conversation with his
master.

'It is not indeed, Sam,' replied Mr. Pickwick, surveying the crowded and
filthy street through which they were passing.

'It's a wery remarkable circumstance, Sir,' said Sam, 'that poverty and
oysters always seem to go together.'

'I don't understand you, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'What I mean, sir,' said Sam, 'is, that the poorer a place is, the
greater call there seems to be for oysters. Look here, sir; here's a
oyster-stall to every half-dozen houses. The street's lined vith 'em.
Blessed if I don't think that ven a man's wery poor, he rushes out of
his lodgings, and eats oysters in reg'lar desperation.'

'To be sure he does,' said Mr. Weller, senior; 'and it's just the same
vith pickled salmon!'

'Those are two very remarkable facts, which never occurred to me
before,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'The very first place we stop at, I'll make
a note of them.'

By this time they had reached the turnpike at Mile End; a profound
silence prevailed until they had got two or three miles farther on, when
Mr. Weller, senior, turning suddenly to Mr. Pickwick, said--

'Wery queer life is a pike-keeper's, sir.'

'A what?' said Mr. Pickwick.

'A pike-keeper.'

'What do you mean by a pike-keeper?' inquired Mr. Peter Magnus.

'The old 'un means a turnpike-keeper, gen'l'm'n,' observed Mr. Samuel
Weller, in explanation.

'Oh,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'I see. Yes; very curious life. Very
uncomfortable.'

'They're all on 'em men as has met vith some disappointment in life,'
said Mr. Weller, senior.

'Ay, ay,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Yes. Consequence of vich, they retires from the world, and shuts
themselves up in pikes; partly with the view of being solitary, and
partly to rewenge themselves on mankind by takin' tolls.'

'Dear me,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'I never knew that before.'

'Fact, Sir,' said Mr. Weller; 'if they was gen'l'm'n, you'd call 'em
misanthropes, but as it is, they only takes to pike-keepin'.'

With such conversation, possessing the inestimable charm of blending
amusement with instruction, did Mr. Weller beguile the tediousness of
the journey, during the greater part of the day. Topics of conversation
were never wanting, for even when any pause occurred in Mr. Weller's
loquacity, it was abundantly supplied by the desire evinced by Mr.
Magnus to make himself acquainted with the whole of the personal history
of his fellow-travellers, and his loudly-expressed anxiety at every
stage, respecting the safety and well-being of the two bags, the leather
hat-box, and the brown-paper parcel.

In the main street of Ipswich, on the left-hand side of the way, a short
distance after you have passed through the open space fronting the Town
Hall, stands an inn known far and wide by the appellation of the Great
White Horse, rendered the more conspicuous by a stone statue of some
rampacious animal with flowing mane and tail, distantly resembling an
insane cart-horse, which is elevated above the principal door. The Great
White Horse is famous in the neighbourhood, in the same degree as a
prize ox, or a county-paper-chronicled turnip, or unwieldy pig--for its
enormous size. Never was such labyrinths of uncarpeted passages, such
clusters of mouldy, ill-lighted rooms, such huge numbers of small
dens for eating or sleeping in, beneath any one roof, as are collected
together between the four walls of the Great White Horse at Ipswich.

It was at the door of this overgrown tavern that the London coach
stopped, at the same hour every evening; and it was from this same
London coach that Mr. Pickwick, Sam Weller, and Mr. Peter Magnus
dismounted, on the particular evening to which this chapter of our
history bears reference.

'Do you stop here, sir?' inquired Mr. Peter Magnus, when the striped
bag, and the red bag, and the brown-paper parcel, and the leather
hat-box, had all been deposited in the passage. 'Do you stop here, sir?'

'I do,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Dear me,' said Mr. Magnus, 'I never knew anything like these
extraordinary coincidences. Why, I stop here too. I hope we dine
together?'

'With pleasure,' replied Mr. Pickwick. 'I am not quite certain whether I
have any friends here or not, though. Is there any gentleman of the name
of Tupman here, waiter?'

A corpulent man, with a fortnight's napkin under his arm, and coeval
stockings on his legs, slowly desisted from his occupation of staring
down the street, on this question being put to him by Mr. Pickwick; and,
after minutely inspecting that gentleman's appearance, from the crown of
his hat to the lowest button of his gaiters, replied emphatically--

'No!'

'Nor any gentleman of the name of Snodgrass?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.

'No!'

'Nor Winkle?'

'No!'

'My friends have not arrived to-day, Sir,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'We will
dine alone, then. Show us a private room, waiter.'

On this request being preferred, the corpulent man condescended to order
the boots to bring in the gentlemen's luggage; and preceding them down
a long, dark passage, ushered them into a large, badly-furnished
apartment, with a dirty grate, in which a small fire was making a
wretched attempt to be cheerful, but was fast sinking beneath the
dispiriting influence of the place. After the lapse of an hour, a bit
of fish and a steak was served up to the travellers, and when the dinner
was cleared away, Mr. Pickwick and Mr. Peter Magnus drew their chairs
up to the fire, and having ordered a bottle of the worst possible port
wine, at the highest possible price, for the good of the house, drank
brandy-and-water for their own.

Mr. Peter Magnus was naturally of a very communicative disposition, and
the brandy-and-water operated with wonderful effect in warming into
life the deepest hidden secrets of his bosom. After sundry accounts
of himself, his family, his connections, his friends, his jokes, his
business, and his brothers (most talkative men have a great deal to
say about their brothers), Mr. Peter Magnus took a view of Mr. Pickwick
through his coloured spectacles for several minutes, and then said, with
an air of modesty--

'And what do you think--what DO you think, Mr. Pickwick--I have come
down here for?'

'Upon my word,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'it is wholly impossible for me to
guess; on business, perhaps.'

'Partly right, Sir,' replied Mr. Peter Magnus, 'but partly wrong at the
same time; try again, Mr. Pickwick.'

'Really,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'I must throw myself on your mercy, to tell
me or not, as you may think best; for I should never guess, if I were to
try all night.'

'Why, then, he-he-he!' said Mr. Peter Magnus, with a bashful titter,
'what should you think, Mr. Pickwick, if I had come down here to make a
proposal, Sir, eh? He, he, he!'

'Think! That you are very likely to succeed,' replied Mr. Pickwick, with
one of his beaming smiles. 'Ah!' said Mr. Magnus. 'But do you really
think so, Mr. Pickwick? Do you, though?'

'Certainly,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'No; but you're joking, though.'

'I am not, indeed.'

'Why, then,' said Mr. Magnus, 'to let you into a little secret, I think
so too. I don't mind telling you, Mr. Pickwick, although I'm dreadful
jealous by nature--horrid--that the lady is in this house.' Here Mr.
Magnus took off his spectacles, on purpose to wink, and then put them on
again.

'That's what you were running out of the room for, before dinner, then,
so often,' said Mr. Pickwick archly.

'Hush! Yes, you're right, that was it; not such a fool as to see her,
though.'

'No!'

'No; wouldn't do, you know, after having just come off a journey. Wait
till to-morrow, sir; double the chance then. Mr. Pickwick, Sir, there is
a suit of clothes in that bag, and a hat in that box, which, I expect,
in the effect they will produce, will be invaluable to me, sir.'

'Indeed!' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Yes; you must have observed my anxiety about them to-day. I do not
believe that such another suit of clothes, and such a hat, could be
bought for money, Mr. Pickwick.'

Mr. Pickwick congratulated the fortunate owner of the irresistible
garments on their acquisition; and Mr. Peter Magnus remained a few
moments apparently absorbed in contemplation. 'She's a fine creature,'
said Mr. Magnus.

'Is she?' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Very,' said Mr. Magnus. 'Very. She lives about twenty miles from here,
Mr. Pickwick. I heard she would be here to-night and all to-morrow
forenoon, and came down to seize the opportunity. I think an inn is a
good sort of a place to propose to a single woman in, Mr. Pickwick. She
is more likely to feel the loneliness of her situation in travelling,
perhaps, than she would be at home. What do you think, Mr. Pickwick?'

'I think it is very probable,' replied that gentleman.

'I beg your pardon, Mr. Pickwick,' said Mr. Peter Magnus, 'but I am
naturally rather curious; what may you have come down here for?'

'On a far less pleasant errand, Sir,' replied Mr. Pickwick, the colour
mounting to his face at the recollection. 'I have come down here, Sir,
to expose the treachery and falsehood of an individual, upon whose truth
and honour I placed implicit reliance.'

'Dear me,' said Mr. Peter Magnus, 'that's very unpleasant. It is a lady,
I presume? Eh? ah! Sly, Mr. Pickwick, sly. Well, Mr. Pickwick, sir, I
wouldn't probe your feelings for the world. Painful subjects, these,
sir, very painful. Don't mind me, Mr. Pickwick, if you wish to give vent
to your feelings. I know what it is to be jilted, Sir; I have endured
that sort of thing three or four times.'

'I am much obliged to you, for your condolence on what you presume to be
my melancholy case,' said Mr. Pickwick, winding up his watch, and laying
it on the table, 'but--'

'No, no,' said Mr. Peter Magnus, 'not a word more; it's a painful
subject. I see, I see. What's the time, Mr. Pickwick?' 'Past twelve.'

'Dear me, it's time to go to bed. It will never do, sitting here. I
shall be pale to-morrow, Mr. Pickwick.'

At the bare notion of such a calamity, Mr. Peter Magnus rang the bell
for the chambermaid; and the striped bag, the red bag, the leathern
hat-box, and the brown-paper parcel, having been conveyed to his
bedroom, he retired in company with a japanned candlestick, to one side
of the house, while Mr. Pickwick, and another japanned candlestick, were
conducted through a multitude of tortuous windings, to another.

'This is your room, sir,' said the chambermaid.

'Very well,' replied Mr. Pickwick, looking round him. It was a
tolerably large double-bedded room, with a fire; upon the whole, a more
comfortable-looking apartment than Mr. Pickwick's short experience of
the accommodations of the Great White Horse had led him to expect.

'Nobody sleeps in the other bed, of course,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Oh, no, Sir.'

'Very good. Tell my servant to bring me up some hot water at half-past
eight in the morning, and that I shall not want him any more to-night.'

'Yes, Sir,' and bidding Mr. Pickwick good-night, the chambermaid
retired, and left him alone.

Mr. Pickwick sat himself down in a chair before the fire, and fell into
a train of rambling meditations. First he thought of his friends, and
wondered when they would join him; then his mind reverted to Mrs. Martha
Bardell; and from that lady it wandered, by a natural process, to the
dingy counting-house of Dodson & Fogg. From Dodson & Fogg's it flew off
at a tangent, to the very centre of the history of the queer client; and
then it came back to the Great White Horse at Ipswich, with sufficient
clearness to convince Mr. Pickwick that he was falling asleep. So he
roused himself, and began to undress, when he recollected he had left
his watch on the table downstairs.

Now this watch was a special favourite with Mr. Pickwick, having been
carried about, beneath the shadow of his waistcoat, for a greater number
of years than we feel called upon to state at present. The possibility
of going to sleep, unless it were ticking gently beneath his pillow,
or in the watch-pocket over his head, had never entered Mr. Pickwick's
brain. So as it was pretty late now, and he was unwilling to ring his
bell at that hour of the night, he slipped on his coat, of which he had
just divested himself, and taking the japanned candlestick in his hand,
walked quietly downstairs. The more stairs Mr. Pickwick went down, the
more stairs there seemed to be to descend, and again and again, when Mr.
Pickwick got into some narrow passage, and began to congratulate himself
on having gained the ground-floor, did another flight of stairs appear
before his astonished eyes. At last he reached a stone hall, which he
remembered to have seen when he entered the house. Passage after passage
did he explore; room after room did he peep into; at length, as he was
on the point of giving up the search in despair, he opened the door of
the identical room in which he had spent the evening, and beheld his
missing property on the table.

Mr. Pickwick seized the watch in triumph, and proceeded to retrace his
steps to his bedchamber. If his progress downward had been attended
with difficulties and uncertainty, his journey back was infinitely more
perplexing. Rows of doors, garnished with boots of every shape, make,
and size, branched off in every possible direction. A dozen times did
he softly turn the handle of some bedroom door which resembled his own,
when a gruff cry from within of 'Who the devil's that?' or 'What do
you want here?' caused him to steal away, on tiptoe, with a perfectly
marvellous celerity. He was reduced to the verge of despair, when an
open door attracted his attention. He peeped in. Right at last! There
were the two beds, whose situation he perfectly remembered, and the fire
still burning. His candle, not a long one when he first received it, had
flickered away in the drafts of air through which he had passed and sank
into the socket as he closed the door after him. 'No matter,' said Mr.
Pickwick, 'I can undress myself just as well by the light of the fire.'

The bedsteads stood one on each side of the door; and on the inner side
of each was a little path, terminating in a rush-bottomed chair, just
wide enough to admit of a person's getting into or out of bed, on that
side, if he or she thought proper. Having carefully drawn the curtains
of his bed on the outside, Mr. Pickwick sat down on the rush-bottomed
chair, and leisurely divested himself of his shoes and gaiters. He then
took off and folded up his coat, waistcoat, and neckcloth, and slowly
drawing on his tasselled nightcap, secured it firmly on his head, by
tying beneath his chin the strings which he always had attached to that
article of dress. It was at this moment that the absurdity of his
recent bewilderment struck upon his mind. Throwing himself back in the
rush-bottomed chair, Mr. Pickwick laughed to himself so heartily, that
it would have been quite delightful to any man of well-constituted mind
to have watched the smiles that expanded his amiable features as they
shone forth from beneath the nightcap.

'It is the best idea,' said Mr. Pickwick to himself, smiling till he
almost cracked the nightcap strings--'it is the best idea, my losing
myself in this place, and wandering about these staircases, that I ever
heard of. Droll, droll, very droll.' Here Mr. Pickwick smiled again,
a broader smile than before, and was about to continue the process of
undressing, in the best possible humour, when he was suddenly stopped
by a most unexpected interruption: to wit, the entrance into the room of
some person with a candle, who, after locking the door, advanced to the
dressing-table, and set down the light upon it.

The smile that played on Mr. Pickwick's features was instantaneously
lost in a look of the most unbounded and wonder-stricken surprise.
The person, whoever it was, had come in so suddenly and with so little
noise, that Mr. Pickwick had had no time to call out, or oppose their
entrance. Who could it be? A robber? Some evil-minded person who had
seen him come upstairs with a handsome watch in his hand, perhaps. What
was he to do?

The only way in which Mr. Pickwick could catch a glimpse of his
mysterious visitor with the least danger of being seen himself, was by
creeping on to the bed, and peeping out from between the curtains on the
opposite side. To this manoeuvre he accordingly resorted. Keeping the
curtains carefully closed with his hand, so that nothing more of him
could be seen than his face and nightcap, and putting on his spectacles,
he mustered up courage and looked out.

Mr. Pickwick almost fainted with horror and dismay. Standing before the
dressing-glass was a middle-aged lady, in yellow curl-papers, busily
engaged in brushing what ladies call their 'back-hair.' However the
unconscious middle-aged lady came into that room, it was quite clear
that she contemplated remaining there for the night; for she had brought
a rushlight and shade with her, which, with praiseworthy precaution
against fire, she had stationed in a basin on the floor, where it was
glimmering away, like a gigantic lighthouse in a particularly small
piece of water.

'Bless my soul!' thought Mr. Pickwick, 'what a dreadful thing!'

'Hem!' said the lady; and in went Mr. Pickwick's head with
automaton-like rapidity.

'I never met with anything so awful as this,' thought poor Mr. Pickwick,
the cold perspiration starting in drops upon his nightcap. 'Never. This
is fearful.'

It was quite impossible to resist the urgent desire to see what was
going forward. So out went Mr. Pickwick's head again. The prospect was
worse than before. The middle-aged lady had finished arranging her hair;
had carefully enveloped it in a muslin nightcap with a small plaited
border; and was gazing pensively on the fire.

'This matter is growing alarming,' reasoned Mr. Pickwick with himself.
'I can't allow things to go on in this way. By the self-possession of
that lady, it is clear to me that I must have come into the wrong
room. If I call out she'll alarm the house; but if I remain here the
consequences will be still more frightful.' Mr. Pickwick, it is quite
unnecessary to say, was one of the most modest and delicate-minded of
mortals. The very idea of exhibiting his nightcap to a lady overpowered
him, but he had tied those confounded strings in a knot, and, do what
he would, he couldn't get it off. The disclosure must be made. There
was only one other way of doing it. He shrunk behind the curtains, and
called out very loudly--

'Ha-hum!'

That the lady started at this unexpected sound was evident, by her
falling up against the rushlight shade; that she persuaded herself it
must have been the effect of imagination was equally clear, for when Mr.
Pickwick, under the impression that she had fainted away stone-dead with
fright, ventured to peep out again, she was gazing pensively on the fire
as before.

'Most extraordinary female this,' thought Mr. Pickwick, popping in
again. 'Ha-hum!'

These last sounds, so like those in which, as legends inform us, the
ferocious giant Blunderbore was in the habit of expressing his opinion
that it was time to lay the cloth, were too distinctly audible to be
again mistaken for the workings of fancy.

'Gracious Heaven!' said the middle-aged lady, 'what's that?'

'It's--it's--only a gentleman, ma'am,' said Mr. Pickwick, from behind
the curtains.

'A gentleman!' said the lady, with a terrific scream.

'It's all over!' thought Mr. Pickwick.

'A strange man!' shrieked the lady. Another instant and the house would
be alarmed. Her garments rustled as she rushed towards the door.

'Ma'am,' said Mr. Pickwick, thrusting out his head in the extremity of
his desperation, 'ma'am!'

Now, although Mr. Pickwick was not actuated by any definite object
in putting out his head, it was instantaneously productive of a good
effect. The lady, as we have already stated, was near the door. She must
pass it, to reach the staircase, and she would most undoubtedly have
done so by this time, had not the sudden apparition of Mr. Pickwick's
nightcap driven her back into the remotest corner of the apartment,
where she stood staring wildly at Mr. Pickwick, while Mr. Pickwick in
his turn stared wildly at her.

'Wretch,' said the lady, covering her eyes with her hands, 'what do you
want here?'

'Nothing, ma'am; nothing whatever, ma'am,' said Mr. Pickwick earnestly.

'Nothing!' said the lady, looking up.

'Nothing, ma'am, upon my honour,' said Mr. Pickwick, nodding his head
so energetically, that the tassel of his nightcap danced again. 'I am
almost ready to sink, ma'am, beneath the confusion of addressing a lady
in my nightcap (here the lady hastily snatched off hers), but I can't
get it off, ma'am (here Mr. Pickwick gave it a tremendous tug, in proof
of the statement). It is evident to me, ma'am, now, that I have mistaken
this bedroom for my own. I had not been here five minutes, ma'am, when
you suddenly entered it.'

'If this improbable story be really true, Sir,' said the lady, sobbing
violently, 'you will leave it instantly.'

'I will, ma'am, with the greatest pleasure,' replied Mr. Pickwick.

'Instantly, sir,' said the lady.

'Certainly, ma'am,' interposed Mr. Pickwick, very quickly. 'Certainly,
ma'am. I--I--am very sorry, ma'am,' said Mr. Pickwick, making his
appearance at the bottom of the bed, 'to have been the innocent occasion
of this alarm and emotion; deeply sorry, ma'am.'

The lady pointed to the door. One excellent quality of Mr. Pickwick's
character was beautifully displayed at this moment, under the most
trying circumstances. Although he had hastily Put on his hat over his
nightcap, after the manner of the old patrol; although he carried his
shoes and gaiters in his hand, and his coat and waistcoat over his arm;
nothing could subdue his native politeness.

'I am exceedingly sorry, ma'am,' said Mr. Pickwick, bowing very low.

'If you are, Sir, you will at once leave the room,' said the lady.

'Immediately, ma'am; this instant, ma'am,' said Mr. Pickwick, opening
the door, and dropping both his shoes with a crash in so doing.

'I trust, ma'am,' resumed Mr. Pickwick, gathering up his shoes, and
turning round to bow again--'I trust, ma'am, that my unblemished
character, and the devoted respect I entertain for your sex, will plead
as some slight excuse for this--' But before Mr. Pickwick could conclude
the sentence, the lady had thrust him into the passage, and locked and
bolted the door behind him.

Whatever grounds of self-congratulation Mr. Pickwick might have for
having escaped so quietly from his late awkward situation, his present
position was by no means enviable. He was alone, in an open passage, in
a strange house in the middle of the night, half dressed; it was not
to be supposed that he could find his way in perfect darkness to a room
which he had been wholly unable to discover with a light, and if he made
the slightest noise in his fruitless attempts to do so, he stood every
chance of being shot at, and perhaps killed, by some wakeful traveller.
He had no resource but to remain where he was until daylight appeared.
So after groping his way a few paces down the passage, and, to his
infinite alarm, stumbling over several pairs of boots in so doing, Mr.
Pickwick crouched into a little recess in the wall, to wait for morning,
as philosophically as he might.

He was not destined, however, to undergo this additional trial of
patience; for he had not been long ensconced in his present concealment
when, to his unspeakable horror, a man, bearing a light, appeared at the
end of the passage. His horror was suddenly converted into joy, however,
when he recognised the form of his faithful attendant. It was indeed Mr.
Samuel Weller, who after sitting up thus late, in conversation with the
boots, who was sitting up for the mail, was now about to retire to rest.

'Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick, suddenly appearing before him, 'where's my
bedroom?'

Mr. Weller stared at his master with the most emphatic surprise; and it
was not until the question had been repeated three several times, that
he turned round, and led the way to the long-sought apartment.

'Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick, as he got into bed, 'I have made one of the
most extraordinary mistakes to-night, that ever were heard of.'

'Wery likely, Sir,' replied Mr. Weller drily.

'But of this I am determined, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick; 'that if I were
to stop in this house for six months, I would never trust myself about
it, alone, again.'

'That's the wery prudentest resolution as you could come to, Sir,'
replied Mr. Weller. 'You rayther want somebody to look arter you, Sir,
when your judgment goes out a wisitin'.'

'What do you mean by that, Sam?' said Mr. Pickwick. He raised himself in
bed, and extended his hand, as if he were about to say something
more; but suddenly checking himself, turned round, and bade his valet
'Good-night.'

'Good-night, Sir,' replied Mr. Weller. He paused when he got outside the
door--shook his head--walked on--stopped--snuffed the candle--shook
his head again--and finally proceeded slowly to his chamber, apparently
buried in the profoundest meditation.



CHAPTER XXIII. IN WHICH Mr. SAMUEL WELLER BEGINS TO DEVOTE HIS ENERGIES
TO THE RETURN MATCH BETWEEN HIMSELF AND Mr. TROTTER


In a small room in the vicinity of the stableyard, betimes in the
morning, which was ushered in by Mr. Pickwick's adventure with the
middle--aged lady in the yellow curl-papers, sat Mr. Weller, senior,
preparing himself for his journey to London. He was sitting in an
excellent attitude for having his portrait taken; and here it is.

It is very possible that at some earlier period of his career, Mr.
Weller's profile might have presented a bold and determined outline. His
face, however, had expanded under the influence of good living, and a
disposition remarkable for resignation; and its bold, fleshy curves had
so far extended beyond the limits originally assigned them, that unless
you took a full view of his countenance in front, it was difficult to
distinguish more than the extreme tip of a very rubicund nose. His chin,
from the same cause, had acquired the grave and imposing form which is
generally described by prefixing the word 'double' to that expressive
feature; and his complexion exhibited that peculiarly mottled
combination of colours which is only to be seen in gentlemen of his
profession, and in underdone roast beef. Round his neck he wore
a crimson travelling-shawl, which merged into his chin by such
imperceptible gradations, that it was difficult to distinguish the folds
of the one, from the folds of the other. Over this, he mounted a long
waistcoat of a broad pink-striped pattern, and over that again, a
wide-skirted green coat, ornamented with large brass buttons, whereof
the two which garnished the waist, were so far apart, that no man had
ever beheld them both at the same time. His hair, which was short,
sleek, and black, was just visible beneath the capacious brim of a
low-crowned brown hat. His legs were encased in knee-cord breeches, and
painted top-boots; and a copper watch-chain, terminating in one seal,
and a key of the same material, dangled loosely from his capacious
waistband.

We have said that Mr. Weller was engaged in preparing for his journey
to London--he was taking sustenance, in fact. On the table before him,
stood a pot of ale, a cold round of beef, and a very respectable-looking
loaf, to each of which he distributed his favours in turn, with the most
rigid impartiality. He had just cut a mighty slice from the latter, when
the footsteps of somebody entering the room, caused him to raise his
head; and he beheld his son.

'Mornin', Sammy!' said the father.

The son walked up to the pot of ale, and nodding significantly to his
parent, took a long draught by way of reply.

'Wery good power o' suction, Sammy,' said Mr. Weller the elder, looking
into the pot, when his first-born had set it down half empty. 'You'd ha'
made an uncommon fine oyster, Sammy, if you'd been born in that station
o' life.'

'Yes, I des-say, I should ha' managed to pick up a respectable livin','
replied Sam applying himself to the cold beef, with considerable vigour.

'I'm wery sorry, Sammy,' said the elder Mr. Weller, shaking up the ale,
by describing small circles with the pot, preparatory to drinking.
'I'm wery sorry, Sammy, to hear from your lips, as you let yourself be
gammoned by that 'ere mulberry man. I always thought, up to three days
ago, that the names of Veller and gammon could never come into contract,
Sammy, never.'

'Always exceptin' the case of a widder, of course,' said Sam.

'Widders, Sammy,' replied Mr. Weller, slightly changing colour. 'Widders
are 'ceptions to ev'ry rule. I have heerd how many ordinary women
one widder's equal to in pint o' comin' over you. I think it's
five-and-twenty, but I don't rightly know vether it ain't more.'

'Well; that's pretty well,' said Sam.

'Besides,' continued Mr. Weller, not noticing the interruption, 'that's
a wery different thing. You know what the counsel said, Sammy, as
defended the gen'l'm'n as beat his wife with the poker, venever he got
jolly. "And arter all, my Lord," says he, "it's a amiable weakness." So
I says respectin' widders, Sammy, and so you'll say, ven you gets as old
as me.'

'I ought to ha' know'd better, I know,' said Sam.

'Ought to ha' know'd better!' repeated Mr. Weller, striking the table
with his fist. 'Ought to ha' know'd better! why, I know a young 'un as
hasn't had half nor quarter your eddication--as hasn't slept about the
markets, no, not six months--who'd ha' scorned to be let in, in such a
vay; scorned it, Sammy.' In the excitement of feeling produced by
this agonising reflection, Mr. Weller rang the bell, and ordered an
additional pint of ale.

'Well, it's no use talking about it now,' said Sam. 'It's over, and
can't be helped, and that's one consolation, as they always says in
Turkey, ven they cuts the wrong man's head off. It's my innings now,
gov'nor, and as soon as I catches hold o' this 'ere Trotter, I'll have a
good 'un.'

'I hope you will, Sammy. I hope you will,' returned Mr. Weller. 'Here's
your health, Sammy, and may you speedily vipe off the disgrace as
you've inflicted on the family name.' In honour of this toast Mr. Weller
imbibed at a draught, at least two-thirds of a newly-arrived pint,
and handed it over to his son, to dispose of the remainder, which he
instantaneously did.

'And now, Sammy,' said Mr. Weller, consulting a large double-faced
silver watch that hung at the end of the copper chain. 'Now it's time
I was up at the office to get my vay-bill and see the coach loaded; for
coaches, Sammy, is like guns--they requires to be loaded with wery great
care, afore they go off.'

At this parental and professional joke, Mr. Weller, junior, smiled a
filial smile. His revered parent continued in a solemn tone--

'I'm a-goin' to leave you, Samivel, my boy, and there's no telling ven I
shall see you again. Your mother-in-law may ha' been too much for me, or
a thousand things may have happened by the time you next hears any news
o' the celebrated Mr. Veller o' the Bell Savage. The family name depends
wery much upon you, Samivel, and I hope you'll do wot's right by it.
Upon all little pints o' breedin', I know I may trust you as vell as if
it was my own self. So I've only this here one little bit of adwice to
give you. If ever you gets to up'ards o' fifty, and feels disposed to go
a-marryin' anybody--no matter who--jist you shut yourself up in your own
room, if you've got one, and pison yourself off hand. Hangin's wulgar,
so don't you have nothin' to say to that. Pison yourself, Samivel, my
boy, pison yourself, and you'll be glad on it arterwards.' With these
affecting words, Mr. Weller looked steadfastly on his son, and turning
slowly upon his heel, disappeared from his sight.

In the contemplative mood which these words had awakened, Mr. Samuel
Weller walked forth from the Great White Horse when his father had left
him; and bending his steps towards St. Clement's Church, endeavoured to
dissipate his melancholy, by strolling among its ancient precincts. He
had loitered about, for some time, when he found himself in a retired
spot--a kind of courtyard of venerable appearance--which he discovered
had no other outlet than the turning by which he had entered. He was
about retracing his steps, when he was suddenly transfixed to the spot
by a sudden appearance; and the mode and manner of this appearance, we
now proceed to relate.

Mr. Samuel Weller had been staring up at the old brick houses now
and then, in his deep abstraction, bestowing a wink upon some
healthy-looking servant girl as she drew up a blind, or threw open a
bedroom window, when the green gate of a garden at the bottom of the
yard opened, and a man having emerged therefrom, closed the green gate
very carefully after him, and walked briskly towards the very spot where
Mr. Weller was standing.

Now, taking this, as an isolated fact, unaccompanied by any attendant
circumstances, there was nothing very extraordinary in it; because in
many parts of the world men do come out of gardens, close green
gates after them, and even walk briskly away, without attracting any
particular share of public observation. It is clear, therefore, that
there must have been something in the man, or in his manner, or both,
to attract Mr. Weller's particular notice. Whether there was, or not, we
must leave the reader to determine, when we have faithfully recorded the
behaviour of the individual in question.

When the man had shut the green gate after him, he walked, as we have
said twice already, with a brisk pace up the courtyard; but he no
sooner caught sight of Mr. Weller than he faltered, and stopped, as if
uncertain, for the moment, what course to adopt. As the green gate was
closed behind him, and there was no other outlet but the one in front,
however, he was not long in perceiving that he must pass Mr. Samuel
Weller to get away. He therefore resumed his brisk pace, and advanced,
staring straight before him. The most extraordinary thing about the
man was, that he was contorting his face into the most fearful and
astonishing grimaces that ever were beheld. Nature's handiwork never
was disguised with such extraordinary artificial carving, as the man had
overlaid his countenance with in one moment.

'Well!' said Mr. Weller to himself, as the man approached. 'This is wery
odd. I could ha' swore it was him.'

Up came the man, and his face became more frightfully distorted than
ever, as he drew nearer.

'I could take my oath to that 'ere black hair and mulberry suit,' said
Mr. Weller; 'only I never see such a face as that afore.'

As Mr. Weller said this, the man's features assumed an unearthly twinge,
perfectly hideous. He was obliged to pass very near Sam, however, and
the scrutinising glance of that gentleman enabled him to detect, under
all these appalling twists of feature, something too like the small eyes
of Mr. Job Trotter to be easily mistaken.

'Hollo, you Sir!' shouted Sam fiercely.

The stranger stopped.

'Hollo!' repeated Sam, still more gruffly.

The man with the horrible face looked, with the greatest surprise,
up the court, and down the court, and in at the windows of the
houses--everywhere but at Sam Weller--and took another step forward,
when he was brought to again by another shout.

'Hollo, you sir!' said Sam, for the third time.

There was no pretending to mistake where the voice came from now, so the
stranger, having no other resource, at last looked Sam Weller full in
the face.

'It won't do, Job Trotter,' said Sam. 'Come! None o' that 'ere nonsense.
You ain't so wery 'andsome that you can afford to throw avay many o'
your good looks. Bring them 'ere eyes o' yourn back into their proper
places, or I'll knock 'em out of your head. D'ye hear?'

As Mr. Weller appeared fully disposed to act up to the spirit of this
address, Mr. Trotter gradually allowed his face to resume its natural
expression; and then giving a start of joy, exclaimed, 'What do I see?
Mr. Walker!'

'Ah,' replied Sam. 'You're wery glad to see me, ain't you?'

'Glad!' exclaimed Job Trotter; 'oh, Mr. Walker, if you had but known
how I have looked forward to this meeting! It is too much, Mr. Walker;
I cannot bear it, indeed I cannot.' And with these words, Mr. Trotter
burst into a regular inundation of tears, and, flinging his arms around
those of Mr. Weller, embraced him closely, in an ecstasy of joy.

'Get off!' cried Sam, indignant at this process, and vainly endeavouring
to extricate himself from the grasp of his enthusiastic acquaintance.
'Get off, I tell you. What are you crying over me for, you portable
engine?'

'Because I am so glad to see you,' replied Job Trotter, gradually
releasing Mr. Weller, as the first symptoms of his pugnacity
disappeared. 'Oh, Mr. Walker, this is too much.'

'Too much!' echoed Sam, 'I think it is too much--rayther! Now, what have
you got to say to me, eh?'

Mr. Trotter made no reply; for the little pink pocket-handkerchief was
in full force.

'What have you got to say to me, afore I knock your head off?' repeated
Mr. Weller, in a threatening manner.

'Eh!' said Mr. Trotter, with a look of virtuous surprise.

'What have you got to say to me?'

'I, Mr. Walker!'

'Don't call me Valker; my name's Veller; you know that vell enough. What
have you got to say to me?'

'Bless you, Mr. Walker--Weller, I mean--a great many things, if you will
come away somewhere, where we can talk comfortably. If you knew how I
have looked for you, Mr. Weller--'

'Wery hard, indeed, I s'pose?' said Sam drily.

'Very, very, Sir,' replied Mr. Trotter, without moving a muscle of his
face. 'But shake hands, Mr. Weller.'

Sam eyed his companion for a few seconds, and then, as if actuated by a
sudden impulse, complied with his request. 'How,' said Job Trotter, as
they walked away, 'how is your dear, good master? Oh, he is a worthy
gentleman, Mr. Weller! I hope he didn't catch cold, that dreadful night,
Sir.'

There was a momentary look of deep slyness in Job Trotter's eye, as he
said this, which ran a thrill through Mr. Weller's clenched fist, as
he burned with a desire to make a demonstration on his ribs. Sam
constrained himself, however, and replied that his master was extremely
well.

'Oh, I am so glad,' replied Mr. Trotter; 'is he here?'

'Is yourn?' asked Sam, by way of reply.

'Oh, yes, he is here, and I grieve to say, Mr. Weller, he is going on
worse than ever.'

'Ah, ah!' said Sam.

'Oh, shocking--terrible!'

'At a boarding-school?' said Sam.

'No, not at a boarding-school,' replied Job Trotter, with the same sly
look which Sam had noticed before; 'not at a boarding-school.'

'At the house with the green gate?' said Sam, eyeing his companion
closely.

'No, no--oh, not there,' replied Job, with a quickness very unusual to
him, 'not there.'

'What was you a-doin' there?' asked Sam, with a sharp glance. 'Got
inside the gate by accident, perhaps?'

'Why, Mr. Weller,' replied Job, 'I don't mind telling you my little
secrets, because, you know, we took such a fancy for each other when we
first met. You recollect how pleasant we were that morning?'

'Oh, yes,' said Sam, impatiently. 'I remember. Well?'

'Well,' replied Job, speaking with great precision, and in the low tone
of a man who communicates an important secret; 'in that house with the
green gate, Mr. Weller, they keep a good many servants.'

'So I should think, from the look on it,' interposed Sam.

'Yes,' continued Mr. Trotter, 'and one of them is a cook, who has saved
up a little money, Mr. Weller, and is desirous, if she can establish
herself in life, to open a little shop in the chandlery way, you see.'
'Yes.'

'Yes, Mr. Weller. Well, Sir, I met her at a chapel that I go to; a very
neat little chapel in this town, Mr. Weller, where they sing the number
four collection of hymns, which I generally carry about with me, in a
little book, which you may perhaps have seen in my hand--and I got a
little intimate with her, Mr. Weller, and from that, an acquaintance
sprung up between us, and I may venture to say, Mr. Weller, that I am to
be the chandler.'

'Ah, and a wery amiable chandler you'll make,' replied Sam, eyeing Job
with a side look of intense dislike.

'The great advantage of this, Mr. Weller,' continued Job, his eyes
filling with tears as he spoke, 'will be, that I shall be able to leave
my present disgraceful service with that bad man, and to devote myself
to a better and more virtuous life; more like the way in which I was
brought up, Mr. Weller.'

'You must ha' been wery nicely brought up,' said Sam.

'Oh, very, Mr. Weller, very,' replied Job. At the recollection of
the purity of his youthful days, Mr. Trotter pulled forth the pink
handkerchief, and wept copiously.

'You must ha' been an uncommon nice boy, to go to school vith,' said
Sam.

'I was, sir,' replied Job, heaving a deep sigh; 'I was the idol of the
place.'

'Ah,' said Sam, 'I don't wonder at it. What a comfort you must ha' been
to your blessed mother.'

At these words, Mr. Job Trotter inserted an end of the pink handkerchief
into the corner of each eye, one after the other, and began to weep
copiously.

'Wot's the matter with the man,' said Sam, indignantly. 'Chelsea
water-works is nothin' to you. What are you melting vith now? The
consciousness o' willainy?'

'I cannot keep my feelings down, Mr. Weller,' said Job, after a short
pause. 'To think that my master should have suspected the conversation
I had with yours, and so dragged me away in a post-chaise, and after
persuading the sweet young lady to say she knew nothing of him, and
bribing the school-mistress to do the same, deserted her for a better
speculation! Oh! Mr. Weller, it makes me shudder.'

'Oh, that was the vay, was it?' said Mr. Weller.

'To be sure it was,' replied Job.

'Vell,' said Sam, as they had now arrived near the hotel, 'I vant to
have a little bit o' talk with you, Job; so if you're not partickler
engaged, I should like to see you at the Great White Horse to-night,
somewheres about eight o'clock.'

'I shall be sure to come,' said Job.

'Yes, you'd better,' replied Sam, with a very meaning look, 'or else I
shall perhaps be askin' arter you, at the other side of the green gate,
and then I might cut you out, you know.'

'I shall be sure to be with you, sir,' said Mr. Trotter; and wringing
Sam's hand with the utmost fervour, he walked away.

'Take care, Job Trotter, take care,' said Sam, looking after him, 'or
I shall be one too many for you this time. I shall, indeed.' Having
uttered this soliloquy, and looked after Job till he was to be seen no
more, Mr. Weller made the best of his way to his master's bedroom.

'It's all in training, Sir,' said Sam.

'What's in training, Sam?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.

'I've found 'em out, Sir,' said Sam.

'Found out who?'

'That 'ere queer customer, and the melan-cholly chap with the black
hair.'

'Impossible, Sam!' said Mr. Pickwick, with the greatest energy. 'Where
are they, Sam: where are they?'

'Hush, hush!' replied Mr. Weller; and as he assisted Mr. Pickwick to
dress, he detailed the plan of action on which he proposed to enter.

'But when is this to be done, Sam?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.

'All in good time, Sir,' replied Sam.

Whether it was done in good time, or not, will be seen hereafter.



CHAPTER XXIV. WHEREIN Mr. PETER MAGNUS GROWS JEALOUS, AND THE
MIDDLE-AGED LADY APPREHENSIVE, WHICH BRINGS THE PICKWICKIANS WITHIN THE
GRASP OF THE LAW


When Mr. Pickwick descended to the room in which he and Mr. Peter Magnus
had spent the preceding evening, he found that gentleman with the major
part of the contents of the two bags, the leathern hat-box, and the
brown-paper parcel, displaying to all possible advantage on his person,
while he himself was pacing up and down the room in a state of the
utmost excitement and agitation.

'Good-morning, Sir,' said Mr. Peter Magnus. 'What do you think of this,
Sir?'

'Very effective indeed,' replied Mr. Pickwick, surveying the garments of
Mr. Peter Magnus with a good-natured smile.

'Yes, I think it'll do,' said Mr. Magnus. 'Mr. Pickwick, Sir, I have
sent up my card.'

'Have you?' said Mr. Pickwick.

'And the waiter brought back word, that she would see me at eleven--at
eleven, Sir; it only wants a quarter now.'

'Very near the time,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Yes, it is rather near,' replied Mr. Magnus, 'rather too near to be
pleasant--eh! Mr. Pickwick, sir?'

'Confidence is a great thing in these cases,' observed Mr. Pickwick.

'I believe it is, Sir,' said Mr. Peter Magnus. 'I am very confident,
Sir. Really, Mr. Pickwick, I do not see why a man should feel any fear
in such a case as this, sir. What is it, Sir? There's nothing to be
ashamed of; it's a matter of mutual accommodation, nothing more. Husband
on one side, wife on the other. That's my view of the matter, Mr.
Pickwick.'

'It is a very philosophical one,' replied Mr. Pickwick. 'But breakfast
is waiting, Mr. Magnus. Come.'

Down they sat to breakfast, but it was evident, notwithstanding the
boasting of Mr. Peter Magnus, that he laboured under a very considerable
degree of nervousness, of which loss of appetite, a propensity to upset
the tea-things, a spectral attempt at drollery, and an irresistible
inclination to look at the clock, every other second, were among the
principal symptoms.

'He-he-he,'tittered Mr. Magnus, affecting cheerfulness, and gasping with
agitation. 'It only wants two minutes, Mr. Pickwick. Am I pale, Sir?'
'Not very,' replied Mr. Pickwick.

There was a brief pause.

'I beg your pardon, Mr. Pickwick; but have you ever done this sort of
thing in your time?' said Mr. Magnus.

'You mean proposing?' said Mr. Pickwick. 'Yes.'

'Never,' said Mr. Pickwick, with great energy, 'never.'

'You have no idea, then, how it's best to begin?' said Mr. Magnus.

'Why,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'I may have formed some ideas upon the
subject, but, as I have never submitted them to the test of experience,
I should be sorry if you were induced to regulate your proceedings by
them.'

'I should feel very much obliged to you, for any advice, Sir,' said Mr.
Magnus, taking another look at the clock, the hand of which was verging
on the five minutes past.

'Well, sir,' said Mr. Pickwick, with the profound solemnity with which
that great man could, when he pleased, render his remarks so deeply
impressive. 'I should commence, sir, with a tribute to the lady's beauty
and excellent qualities; from them, Sir, I should diverge to my own
unworthiness.'

'Very good,' said Mr. Magnus.

'Unworthiness for HER only, mind, sir,' resumed Mr. Pickwick; 'for to
show that I was not wholly unworthy, sir, I should take a brief review
of my past life, and present condition. I should argue, by analogy,
that to anybody else, I must be a very desirable object. I should
then expatiate on the warmth of my love, and the depth of my devotion.
Perhaps I might then be tempted to seize her hand.'

'Yes, I see,' said Mr. Magnus; 'that would be a very great point.'

'I should then, Sir,' continued Mr. Pickwick, growing warmer as the
subject presented itself in more glowing colours before him--'I should
then, Sir, come to the plain and simple question, "Will you have me?" I
think I am justified in assuming that upon this, she would turn away her
head.'

'You think that may be taken for granted?' said Mr. Magnus; 'because, if
she did not do that at the right place, it would be embarrassing.'

'I think she would,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'Upon this, sir, I should
squeeze her hand, and I think--I think, Mr. Magnus--that after I had
done that, supposing there was no refusal, I should gently draw away
the handkerchief, which my slight knowledge of human nature leads me to
suppose the lady would be applying to her eyes at the moment, and steal
a respectful kiss. I think I should kiss her, Mr. Magnus; and at this
particular point, I am decidedly of opinion that if the lady were going
to take me at all, she would murmur into my ears a bashful acceptance.'

Mr. Magnus started; gazed on Mr. Pickwick's intelligent face, for a
short time in silence; and then (the dial pointing to the ten minutes
past) shook him warmly by the hand, and rushed desperately from the
room.

Mr. Pickwick had taken a few strides to and fro; and the small hand of
the clock following the latter part of his example, had arrived at the
figure which indicates the half-hour, when the door suddenly opened. He
turned round to meet Mr. Peter Magnus, and encountered, in his stead,
the joyous face of Mr. Tupman, the serene countenance of Mr. Winkle, and
the intellectual lineaments of Mr. Snodgrass. As Mr. Pickwick greeted
them, Mr. Peter Magnus tripped into the room.

'My friends, the gentleman I was speaking of--Mr. Magnus,' said Mr.
Pickwick.

'Your servant, gentlemen,' said Mr. Magnus, evidently in a high state of
excitement; 'Mr. Pickwick, allow me to speak to you one moment, sir.'

As he said this, Mr. Magnus harnessed his forefinger to Mr. Pickwick's
buttonhole, and, drawing him to a window recess, said--

'Congratulate me, Mr. Pickwick; I followed your advice to the very
letter.'

'And it was all correct, was it?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.

'It was, Sir. Could not possibly have been better,' replied Mr. Magnus.
'Mr. Pickwick, she is mine.'

'I congratulate you, with all my heart,' replied Mr. Pickwick, warmly
shaking his new friend by the hand.

'You must see her. Sir,' said Mr. Magnus; 'this way, if you please.
Excuse us for one instant, gentlemen.' Hurrying on in this way, Mr.
Peter Magnus drew Mr. Pickwick from the room. He paused at the next door
in the passage, and tapped gently thereat.

'Come in,' said a female voice. And in they went.

'Miss Witherfield,' said Mr. Magnus, 'allow me to introduce my very
particular friend, Mr. Pickwick. Mr. Pickwick, I beg to make you known
to Miss Witherfield.'

The lady was at the upper end of the room. As Mr. Pickwick bowed,
he took his spectacles from his waistcoat pocket, and put them on;
a process which he had no sooner gone through, than, uttering an
exclamation of surprise, Mr. Pickwick retreated several paces, and the
lady, with a half-suppressed scream, hid her face in her hands, and
dropped into a chair; whereupon Mr. Peter Magnus was stricken motionless
on the spot, and gazed from one to the other, with a countenance
expressive of the extremities of horror and surprise. This certainly
was, to all appearance, very unaccountable behaviour; but the fact
is, that Mr. Pickwick no sooner put on his spectacles, than he at once
recognised in the future Mrs. Magnus the lady into whose room he had so
unwarrantably intruded on the previous night; and the spectacles had no
sooner crossed Mr. Pickwick's nose, than the lady at once identified
the countenance which she had seen surrounded by all the horrors of a
nightcap. So the lady screamed, and Mr. Pickwick started.

'Mr. Pickwick!' exclaimed Mr. Magnus, lost in astonishment, 'what is the
meaning of this, Sir? What is the meaning of it, Sir?' added Mr. Magnus,
in a threatening, and a louder tone.

'Sir,' said Mr. Pickwick, somewhat indignant at the very sudden manner
in which Mr. Peter Magnus had conjugated himself into the imperative
mood, 'I decline answering that question.'

'You decline it, Sir?' said Mr. Magnus.

'I do, Sir,' replied Mr. Pickwick; 'I object to say anything which may
compromise that lady, or awaken unpleasant recollections in her breast,
without her consent and permission.'

'Miss Witherfield,' said Mr. Peter Magnus, 'do you know this person?'

'Know him!' repeated the middle-aged lady, hesitating.

'Yes, know him, ma'am; I said know him,' replied Mr. Magnus, with
ferocity.

'I have seen him,' replied the middle-aged lady.

'Where?' inquired Mr. Magnus, 'where?'

'That,' said the middle-aged lady, rising from her seat, and averting
her head--'that I would not reveal for worlds.'

'I understand you, ma'am,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'and respect your
delicacy; it shall never be revealed by ME depend upon it.'

'Upon my word, ma'am,' said Mr. Magnus, 'considering the situation in
which I am placed with regard to yourself, you carry this matter off
with tolerable coolness--tolerable coolness, ma'am.'

'Cruel Mr. Magnus!' said the middle-aged lady; here she wept very
copiously indeed.

'Address your observations to me, sir,' interposed Mr. Pickwick; 'I
alone am to blame, if anybody be.'

'Oh! you alone are to blame, are you, sir?' said Mr. Magnus; 'I--I--see
through this, sir. You repent of your determination now, do you?'

'My determination!' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Your determination, Sir. Oh! don't stare at me, Sir,' said Mr. Magnus;
'I recollect your words last night, Sir. You came down here, sir, to
expose the treachery and falsehood of an individual on whose truth and
honour you had placed implicit reliance--eh?' Here Mr. Peter
Magnus indulged in a prolonged sneer; and taking off his green
spectacles--which he probably found superfluous in his fit of
jealousy--rolled his little eyes about, in a manner frightful to behold.

'Eh?' said Mr. Magnus; and then he repeated the sneer with increased
effect. 'But you shall answer it, Sir.'

'Answer what?' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Never mind, sir,' replied Mr. Magnus, striding up and down the room.
'Never mind.'

There must be something very comprehensive in this phrase of 'Never
mind,' for we do not recollect to have ever witnessed a quarrel in the
street, at a theatre, public room, or elsewhere, in which it has not
been the standard reply to all belligerent inquiries. 'Do you call
yourself a gentleman, sir?'--'Never mind, sir.' 'Did I offer to say
anything to the young woman, sir?'--'Never mind, sir.' 'Do you want
your head knocked up against that wall, sir?'--'Never mind, sir.' It is
observable, too, that there would appear to be some hidden taunt in this
universal 'Never mind,' which rouses more indignation in the bosom of
the individual addressed, than the most lavish abuse could possibly
awaken.

We do not mean to assert that the application of this brevity to
himself, struck exactly that indignation to Mr. Pickwick's soul, which
it would infallibly have roused in a vulgar breast. We merely record the
fact that Mr. Pickwick opened the room door, and abruptly called out,
'Tupman, come here!'

Mr. Tupman immediately presented himself, with a look of very
considerable surprise.

'Tupman,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'a secret of some delicacy, in which that
lady is concerned, is the cause of a difference which has just arisen
between this gentleman and myself. When I assure him, in your presence,
that it has no relation to himself, and is not in any way connected with
his affairs, I need hardly beg you to take notice that if he continue to
dispute it, he expresses a doubt of my veracity, which I shall consider
extremely insulting.' As Mr. Pickwick said this, he looked encyclopedias
at Mr. Peter Magnus.

Mr. Pickwick's upright and honourable bearing, coupled with that force
and energy of speech which so eminently distinguished him, would have
carried conviction to any reasonable mind; but, unfortunately, at that
particular moment, the mind of Mr. Peter Magnus was in anything but
reasonable order. Consequently, instead of receiving Mr. Pickwick's
explanation as he ought to have done, he forthwith proceeded to work
himself into a red-hot, scorching, consuming passion, and to talk about
what was due to his own feelings, and all that sort of thing; adding
force to his declamation by striding to and fro, and pulling his
hair--amusements which he would vary occasionally, by shaking his fist
in Mr. Pickwick's philanthropic countenance.

Mr. Pickwick, in his turn, conscious of his own innocence and rectitude,
and irritated by having unfortunately involved the middle-aged lady in
such an unpleasant affair, was not so quietly disposed as was his wont.
The consequence was, that words ran high, and voices higher; and at
length Mr. Magnus told Mr. Pickwick he should hear from him; to which
Mr. Pickwick replied, with laudable politeness, that the sooner he heard
from him the better; whereupon the middle-aged lady rushed in terror
from the room, out of which Mr. Tupman dragged Mr. Pickwick, leaving Mr.
Peter Magnus to himself and meditation.

If the middle-aged lady had mingled much with the busy world, or had
profited at all by the manners and customs of those who make the laws
and set the fashions, she would have known that this sort of ferocity
is the most harmless thing in nature; but as she had lived for the most
part in the country, and never read the parliamentary debates, she
was little versed in these particular refinements of civilised life.
Accordingly, when she had gained her bedchamber, bolted herself in, and
began to meditate on the scene she had just witnessed, the most terrific
pictures of slaughter and destruction presented themselves to her
imagination; among which, a full-length portrait of Mr. Peter Magnus
borne home by four men, with the embellishment of a whole barrelful
of bullets in his left side, was among the very least. The more the
middle-aged lady meditated, the more terrified she became; and at length
she determined to repair to the house of the principal magistrate of
the town, and request him to secure the persons of Mr. Pickwick and Mr.
Tupman without delay.

To this decision the middle-aged lady was impelled by a variety of
considerations, the chief of which was the incontestable proof it would
afford of her devotion to Mr. Peter Magnus, and her anxiety for his
safety. She was too well acquainted with his jealous temperament to
venture the slightest allusion to the real cause of her agitation on
beholding Mr. Pickwick; and she trusted to her own influence and power
of persuasion with the little man, to quell his boisterous jealousy,
supposing that Mr. Pickwick were removed, and no fresh quarrel could
arise. Filled with these reflections, the middle-aged lady arrayed
herself in her bonnet and shawl, and repaired to the mayor's dwelling
straightway.

Now George Nupkins, Esquire, the principal magistrate aforesaid, was as
grand a personage as the fastest walker would find out, between sunrise
and sunset, on the twenty-first of June, which being, according to the
almanacs, the longest day in the whole year, would naturally afford
him the longest period for his search. On this particular morning, Mr.
Nupkins was in a state of the utmost excitement and irritation, for
there had been a rebellion in the town; all the day-scholars at the
largest day-school had conspired to break the windows of an obnoxious
apple-seller, and had hooted the beadle and pelted the constabulary--an
elderly gentleman in top-boots, who had been called out to repress
the tumult, and who had been a peace-officer, man and boy, for half
a century at least. And Mr. Nupkins was sitting in his easy-chair,
frowning with majesty, and boiling with rage, when a lady was announced
on pressing, private, and particular business. Mr. Nupkins looked calmly
terrible, and commanded that the lady should be shown in; which command,
like all the mandates of emperors, and magistrates, and other great
potentates of the earth, was forthwith obeyed; and Miss Witherfield,
interestingly agitated, was ushered in accordingly.

'Muzzle!' said the magistrate.

Muzzle was an undersized footman, with a long body and short legs.

'Muzzle!' 'Yes, your Worship.'

'Place a chair, and leave the room.'

'Yes, your Worship.'

'Now, ma'am, will you state your business?' said the magistrate.

'It is of a very painful kind, Sir,' said Miss Witherfield.

'Very likely, ma'am,' said the magistrate. 'Compose your feelings,
ma'am.' Here Mr. Nupkins looked benignant. 'And then tell me what legal
business brings you here, ma'am.' Here the magistrate triumphed over the
man; and he looked stern again.

'It is very distressing to me, Sir, to give this information,' said Miss
Witherfield, 'but I fear a duel is going to be fought here.'

'Here, ma'am?' said the magistrate. 'Where, ma'am?'

'In Ipswich.' 'In Ipswich, ma'am! A duel in Ipswich!' said the
magistrate, perfectly aghast at the notion. 'Impossible, ma'am; nothing
of the kind can be contemplated in this town, I am persuaded. Bless my
soul, ma'am, are you aware of the activity of our local magistracy? Do
you happen to have heard, ma'am, that I rushed into a prize-ring on the
fourth of May last, attended by only sixty special constables; and, at
the hazard of falling a sacrifice to the angry passions of an infuriated
multitude, prohibited a pugilistic contest between the Middlesex
Dumpling and the Suffolk Bantam? A duel in Ipswich, ma'am? I don't
think--I do not think,' said the magistrate, reasoning with himself,
'that any two men can have had the hardihood to plan such a breach of
the peace, in this town.'

'My information is, unfortunately, but too correct,' said the
middle-aged lady; 'I was present at the quarrel.'

'It's a most extraordinary thing,' said the astounded magistrate.
'Muzzle!'

'Yes, your Worship.'

'Send Mr. Jinks here, directly! Instantly.'

'Yes, your Worship.'

Muzzle retired; and a pale, sharp-nosed, half-fed, shabbily-clad clerk,
of middle age, entered the room.

'Mr. Jinks,' said the magistrate. 'Mr. Jinks.'

'Sir,' said Mr. Jinks. 'This lady, Mr. Jinks, has come here, to give
information of an intended duel in this town.'

Mr. Jinks, not knowing exactly what to do, smiled a dependent's smile.

'What are you laughing at, Mr. Jinks?' said the magistrate.

Mr. Jinks looked serious instantly.

'Mr. Jinks,' said the magistrate, 'you're a fool.'

Mr. Jinks looked humbly at the great man, and bit the top of his pen.

'You may see something very comical in this information, Sir--but I can
tell you this, Mr. Jinks, that you have very little to laugh at,' said
the magistrate.

The hungry-looking Jinks sighed, as if he were quite aware of the fact
of his having very little indeed to be merry about; and, being ordered
to take the lady's information, shambled to a seat, and proceeded to
write it down.

'This man, Pickwick, is the principal, I understand?' said the
magistrate, when the statement was finished.

'He is,' said the middle-aged lady.

'And the other rioter--what's his name, Mr. Jinks?'

'Tupman, Sir.' 'Tupman is the second?'

'Yes.'

'The other principal, you say, has absconded, ma'am?'

'Yes,' replied Miss Witherfield, with a short cough.

'Very well,' said the magistrate. 'These are two cut-throats from
London, who have come down here to destroy his Majesty's population,
thinking that at this distance from the capital, the arm of the law
is weak and paralysed. They shall be made an example of. Draw up the
warrants, Mr. Jinks. Muzzle!'

'Yes, your Worship.'

'Is Grummer downstairs?'

'Yes, your Worship.'

'Send him up.' The obsequious Muzzle retired, and presently returned,
introducing the elderly gentleman in the top-boots, who was chiefly
remarkable for a bottle-nose, a hoarse voice, a snuff-coloured surtout,
and a wandering eye.

'Grummer,' said the magistrate.

'Your Wash-up.'

'Is the town quiet now?'

'Pretty well, your Wash-up,' replied Grummer. 'Pop'lar feeling has in a
measure subsided, consekens o' the boys having dispersed to cricket.'

'Nothing but vigorous measures will do in these times, Grummer,' said
the magistrate, in a determined manner. 'If the authority of the king's
officers is set at naught, we must have the riot act read. If the civil
power cannot protect these windows, Grummer, the military must protect
the civil power, and the windows too. I believe that is a maxim of the
constitution, Mr. Jinks?' 'Certainly, sir,' said Jinks.

'Very good,' said the magistrate, signing the warrants. 'Grummer, you
will bring these persons before me, this afternoon. You will find
them at the Great White Horse. You recollect the case of the Middlesex
Dumpling and the Suffolk Bantam, Grummer?'

Mr. Grummer intimated, by a retrospective shake of the head, that he
should never forget it--as indeed it was not likely he would, so long as
it continued to be cited daily.

'This is even more unconstitutional,' said the magistrate; 'this is
even a greater breach of the peace, and a grosser infringement of his
Majesty's prerogative. I believe duelling is one of his Majesty's most
undoubted prerogatives, Mr. Jinks?'

'Expressly stipulated in Magna Charta, sir,' said Mr. Jinks.

'One of the brightest jewels in the British crown, wrung from his
Majesty by the barons, I believe, Mr. Jinks?' said the magistrate.

'Just so, Sir,' replied Mr. Jinks.

'Very well,' said the magistrate, drawing himself up proudly, 'it shall
not be violated in this portion of his dominions. Grummer, procure
assistance, and execute these warrants with as little delay as possible.
Muzzle!'

'Yes, your Worship.'

'Show the lady out.'

Miss Witherfield retired, deeply impressed with the magistrate's
learning and research; Mr. Nupkins retired to lunch; Mr. Jinks retired
within himself--that being the only retirement he had, except the
sofa-bedstead in the small parlour which was occupied by his landlady's
family in the daytime--and Mr. Grummer retired, to wipe out, by his
mode of discharging his present commission, the insult which had been
fastened upon himself, and the other representative of his Majesty--the
beadle--in the course of the morning.

While these resolute and determined preparations for the conservation
of the king's peace were pending, Mr. Pickwick and his friends, wholly
unconscious of the mighty events in progress, had sat quietly down to
dinner; and very talkative and companionable they all were. Mr. Pickwick
was in the very act of relating his adventure of the preceding night,
to the great amusement of his followers, Mr. Tupman especially, when the
door opened, and a somewhat forbidding countenance peeped into the room.
The eyes in the forbidding countenance looked very earnestly at Mr.
Pickwick, for several seconds, and were to all appearance satisfied with
their investigation; for the body to which the forbidding countenance
belonged, slowly brought itself into the apartment, and presented the
form of an elderly individual in top-boots--not to keep the reader any
longer in suspense, in short, the eyes were the wandering eyes of Mr.
Grummer, and the body was the body of the same gentleman.

Mr. Grummer's mode of proceeding was professional, but peculiar. His
first act was to bolt the door on the inside; his second, to polish
his head and countenance very carefully with a cotton handkerchief;
his third, to place his hat, with the cotton handkerchief in it, on the
nearest chair; and his fourth, to produce from the breast-pocket of
his coat a short truncheon, surmounted by a brazen crown, with which he
beckoned to Mr. Pickwick with a grave and ghost-like air.

Mr. Snodgrass was the first to break the astonished silence. He looked
steadily at Mr. Grummer for a brief space, and then said emphatically,
'This is a private room, Sir. A private room.'

Mr. Grummer shook his head, and replied, 'No room's private to his
Majesty when the street door's once passed. That's law. Some people
maintains that an Englishman's house is his castle. That's gammon.'

The Pickwickians gazed on each other with wondering eyes.

'Which is Mr. Tupman?' inquired Mr. Grummer. He had an intuitive
perception of Mr. Pickwick; he knew him at once.

'My name's Tupman,' said that gentleman.

'My name's Law,' said Mr. Grummer.

'What?' said Mr. Tupman.

'Law,' replied Mr. Grummer--'Law, civil power, and exekative; them's my
titles; here's my authority. Blank Tupman, blank Pickwick--against
the peace of our sufferin' lord the king--stattit in the case made
and purwided--and all regular. I apprehend you Pickwick! Tupman--the
aforesaid.'

'What do you mean by this insolence?' said Mr. Tupman, starting up;
'leave the room!'

'Hollo,' said Mr. Grummer, retreating very expeditiously to the door,
and opening it an inch or two, 'Dubbley.'

'Well,' said a deep voice from the passage.

'Come for'ard, Dubbley.'

At the word of command, a dirty-faced man, something over six feet high,
and stout in proportion, squeezed himself through the half-open door
(making his face very red in the process), and entered the room.

'Is the other specials outside, Dubbley?' inquired Mr. Grummer.

Mr. Dubbley, who was a man of few words, nodded assent.

'Order in the diwision under your charge, Dubbley,' said Mr. Grummer.

Mr. Dubbley did as he was desired; and half a dozen men, each with a
short truncheon and a brass crown, flocked into the room. Mr. Grummer
pocketed his staff, and looked at Mr. Dubbley; Mr. Dubbley pocketed his
staff and looked at the division; the division pocketed their staves and
looked at Messrs. Tupman and Pickwick.

Mr. Pickwick and his followers rose as one man.

'What is the meaning of this atrocious intrusion upon my privacy?' said
Mr. Pickwick.

'Who dares apprehend me?' said Mr. Tupman.

'What do you want here, scoundrels?' said Mr. Snodgrass.

Mr. Winkle said nothing, but he fixed his eyes on Grummer, and bestowed
a look upon him, which, if he had had any feeling, must have pierced his
brain. As it was, however, it had no visible effect on him whatever.

When the executive perceived that Mr. Pickwick and his friends were
disposed to resist the authority of the law, they very significantly
turned up their coat sleeves, as if knocking them down in the first
instance, and taking them up afterwards, were a mere professional act
which had only to be thought of to be done, as a matter of course. This
demonstration was not lost upon Mr. Pickwick. He conferred a few moments
with Mr. Tupman apart, and then signified his readiness to proceed
to the mayor's residence, merely begging the parties then and there
assembled, to take notice, that it was his firm intention to resent this
monstrous invasion of his privileges as an Englishman, the instant he
was at liberty; whereat the parties then and there assembled laughed
very heartily, with the single exception of Mr. Grummer, who seemed to
consider that any slight cast upon the divine right of magistrates was a
species of blasphemy not to be tolerated.

But when Mr. Pickwick had signified his readiness to bow to the laws of
his country, and just when the waiters, and hostlers, and chambermaids,
and post-boys, who had anticipated a delightful commotion from his
threatened obstinacy, began to turn away, disappointed and disgusted,
a difficulty arose which had not been foreseen. With every sentiment
of veneration for the constituted authorities, Mr. Pickwick resolutely
protested against making his appearance in the public streets,
surrounded and guarded by the officers of justice, like a common
criminal. Mr. Grummer, in the then disturbed state of public feeling
(for it was half-holiday, and the boys had not yet gone home), as
resolutely protested against walking on the opposite side of the way,
and taking Mr. Pickwick's parole that he would go straight to the
magistrate's; and both Mr. Pickwick and Mr. Tupman as strenuously
objected to the expense of a post-coach, which was the only respectable
conveyance that could be obtained. The dispute ran high, and the dilemma
lasted long; and just as the executive were on the point of overcoming
Mr. Pickwick's objection to walking to the magistrate's, by the trite
expedient of carrying him thither, it was recollected that there stood
in the inn yard, an old sedan-chair, which, having been originally built
for a gouty gentleman with funded property, would hold Mr. Pickwick and
Mr. Tupman, at least as conveniently as a modern post-chaise. The
chair was hired, and brought into the hall; Mr. Pickwick and Mr. Tupman
squeezed themselves inside, and pulled down the blinds; a couple of
chairmen were speedily found; and the procession started in grand order.
The specials surrounded the body of the vehicle; Mr. Grummer and Mr.
Dubbley marched triumphantly in front; Mr. Snodgrass and Mr. Winkle
walked arm-in-arm behind; and the unsoaped of Ipswich brought up the
rear.

The shopkeepers of the town, although they had a very indistinct
notion of the nature of the offence, could not but be much edified and
gratified by this spectacle. Here was the strong arm of the law,
coming down with twenty gold-beater force, upon two offenders from
the metropolis itself; the mighty engine was directed by their own
magistrate, and worked by their own officers; and both the criminals,
by their united efforts, were securely shut up, in the narrow compass
of one sedan-chair. Many were the expressions of approval and admiration
which greeted Mr. Grummer, as he headed the cavalcade, staff in hand;
loud and long were the shouts raised by the unsoaped; and amidst these
united testimonials of public approbation, the procession moved slowly
and majestically along.

Mr. Weller, habited in his morning jacket, with the black calico
sleeves, was returning in a rather desponding state from an unsuccessful
survey of the mysterious house with the green gate, when, raising his
eyes, he beheld a crowd pouring down the street, surrounding an object
which had very much the appearance of a sedan-chair. Willing to divert
his thoughts from the failure of his enterprise, he stepped aside to see
the crowd pass; and finding that they were cheering away, very much to
their own satisfaction, forthwith began (by way of raising his spirits)
to cheer too, with all his might and main.

Mr. Grummer passed, and Mr. Dubbley passed, and the sedan passed, and
the bodyguard of specials passed, and Sam was still responding to the
enthusiastic cheers of the mob, and waving his hat about as if he were
in the very last extreme of the wildest joy (though, of course, he
had not the faintest idea of the matter in hand), when he was suddenly
stopped by the unexpected appearance of Mr. Winkle and Mr. Snodgrass.

'What's the row, gen'l'm'n?'cried Sam. 'Who have they got in this here
watch-box in mournin'?'

Both gentlemen replied together, but their words were lost in the
tumult.

'Who is it?' cried Sam again.

once more was a joint reply returned; and, though the words were
inaudible, Sam saw by the motion of the two pairs of lips that they had
uttered the magic word 'Pickwick.'

This was enough. In another minute Mr. Weller had made his way through
the crowd, stopped the chairmen, and confronted the portly Grummer.

'Hollo, old gen'l'm'n!' said Sam. 'Who have you got in this here
conweyance?'

'Stand back,' said Mr. Grummer, whose dignity, like the dignity of
a great many other men, had been wondrously augmented by a little
popularity.

'Knock him down, if he don't,' said Mr. Dubbley.

'I'm wery much obliged to you, old gen'l'm'n,' replied Sam, 'for
consulting my conwenience, and I'm still more obliged to the other
gen'l'm'n, who looks as if he'd just escaped from a giant's carrywan,
for his wery 'andsome suggestion; but I should prefer your givin' me a
answer to my question, if it's all the same to you.--How are you,
Sir?' This last observation was addressed with a patronising air to Mr.
Pickwick, who was peeping through the front window.

Mr. Grummer, perfectly speechless with indignation, dragged the
truncheon with the brass crown from its particular pocket, and
flourished it before Sam's eyes.

'Ah,' said Sam, 'it's wery pretty, 'specially the crown, which is
uncommon like the real one.'

'Stand back!' said the outraged Mr. Grummer. By way of adding force to
the command, he thrust the brass emblem of royalty into Sam's neckcloth
with one hand, and seized Sam's collar with the other--a compliment
which Mr. Weller returned by knocking him down out of hand, having
previously with the utmost consideration, knocked down a chairman for
him to lie upon.

Whether Mr. Winkle was seized with a temporary attack of that species
of insanity which originates in a sense of injury, or animated by this
display of Mr. Weller's valour, is uncertain; but certain it is, that
he no sooner saw Mr. Grummer fall than he made a terrific onslaught on
a small boy who stood next him; whereupon Mr. Snodgrass, in a truly
Christian spirit, and in order that he might take no one unawares,
announced in a very loud tone that he was going to begin, and proceeded
to take off his coat with the utmost deliberation. He was immediately
surrounded and secured; and it is but common justice both to him and Mr.
Winkle to say, that they did not make the slightest attempt to rescue
either themselves or Mr. Weller; who, after a most vigorous resistance,
was overpowered by numbers and taken prisoner. The procession then
reformed; the chairmen resumed their stations; and the march was
re-commenced.

Mr. Pickwick's indignation during the whole of this proceeding was
beyond all bounds. He could just see Sam upsetting the specials, and
flying about in every direction; and that was all he could see, for the
sedan doors wouldn't open, and the blinds wouldn't pull up. At length,
with the assistance of Mr. Tupman, he managed to push open the roof;
and mounting on the seat, and steadying himself as well as he could, by
placing his hand on that gentleman's shoulder, Mr. Pickwick proceeded to
address the multitude; to dwell upon the unjustifiable manner in which
he had been treated; and to call upon them to take notice that his
servant had been first assaulted. In this order they reached the
magistrate's house; the chairmen trotting, the prisoners following, Mr.
Pickwick oratorising, and the crowd shouting.



CHAPTER XXV. SHOWING, AMONG A VARIETY OF PLEASANT MATTERS, HOW MAJESTIC
AND IMPARTIAL Mr. NUPKINS WAS; AND HOW Mr. WELLER RETURNED Mr. JOB
TROTTER'S SHUTTLECOCK AS HEAVILY AS IT CAME--WITH ANOTHER MATTER, WHICH
WILL BE FOUND IN ITS PLACE


Violent was Mr. Weller's indignation as he was borne along; numerous
were the allusions to the personal appearance and demeanour of Mr.
Grummer and his companion; and valorous were the defiances to any six
of the gentlemen present, in which he vented his dissatisfaction. Mr.
Snodgrass and Mr. Winkle listened with gloomy respect to the torrent of
eloquence which their leader poured forth from the sedan-chair, and the
rapid course of which not all Mr. Tupman's earnest entreaties to have
the lid of the vehicle closed, were able to check for an instant. But
Mr. Weller's anger quickly gave way to curiosity when the procession
turned down the identical courtyard in which he had met with the runaway
Job Trotter; and curiosity was exchanged for a feeling of the most
gleeful astonishment, when the all-important Mr. Grummer, commanding the
sedan-bearers to halt, advanced with dignified and portentous steps
to the very green gate from which Job Trotter had emerged, and gave a
mighty pull at the bell-handle which hung at the side thereof. The ring
was answered by a very smart and pretty-faced servant-girl, who, after
holding up her hands in astonishment at the rebellious appearance of the
prisoners, and the impassioned language of Mr. Pickwick, summoned Mr.
Muzzle. Mr. Muzzle opened one half of the carriage gate, to admit the
sedan, the captured ones, and the specials; and immediately slammed it
in the faces of the mob, who, indignant at being excluded, and anxious
to see what followed, relieved their feelings by kicking at the gate and
ringing the bell, for an hour or two afterwards. In this amusement they
all took part by turns, except three or four fortunate individuals,
who, having discovered a grating in the gate, which commanded a view
of nothing, stared through it with the indefatigable perseverance with
which people will flatten their noses against the front windows of a
chemist's shop, when a drunken man, who has been run over by a dog-cart
in the street, is undergoing a surgical inspection in the back-parlour.

At the foot of a flight of steps, leading to the house door, which
was guarded on either side by an American aloe in a green tub, the
sedan-chair stopped. Mr. Pickwick and his friends were conducted into
the hall, whence, having been previously announced by Muzzle, and
ordered in by Mr. Nupkins, they were ushered into the worshipful
presence of that public-spirited officer.

The scene was an impressive one, well calculated to strike terror to
the hearts of culprits, and to impress them with an adequate idea of the
stern majesty of the law. In front of a big book-case, in a big chair,
behind a big table, and before a big volume, sat Mr. Nupkins, looking a
full size larger than any one of them, big as they were. The table was
adorned with piles of papers; and above the farther end of it, appeared
the head and shoulders of Mr. Jinks, who was busily engaged in looking
as busy as possible. The party having all entered, Muzzle carefully
closed the door, and placed himself behind his master's chair to await
his orders. Mr. Nupkins threw himself back with thrilling solemnity, and
scrutinised the faces of his unwilling visitors.

'Now, Grummer, who is that person?' said Mr. Nupkins, pointing to Mr.
Pickwick, who, as the spokesman of his friends, stood hat in hand,
bowing with the utmost politeness and respect.

'This here's Pickvick, your Wash-up,' said Grummer.

'Come, none o' that 'ere, old Strike-a-light,' interposed Mr. Weller,
elbowing himself into the front rank. 'Beg your pardon, sir, but this
here officer o' yourn in the gambooge tops, 'ull never earn a decent
livin' as a master o' the ceremonies any vere. This here, sir' continued
Mr. Weller, thrusting Grummer aside, and addressing the magistrate with
pleasant familiarity, 'this here is S. Pickvick, Esquire; this here's
Mr. Tupman; that 'ere's Mr. Snodgrass; and farder on, next him on the
t'other side, Mr. Winkle--all wery nice gen'l'm'n, Sir, as you'll be
wery happy to have the acquaintance on; so the sooner you commits these
here officers o' yourn to the tread--mill for a month or two, the
sooner we shall begin to be on a pleasant understanding. Business first,
pleasure arterwards, as King Richard the Third said when he stabbed the
t'other king in the Tower, afore he smothered the babbies.'

At the conclusion of this address, Mr. Weller brushed his hat with his
right elbow, and nodded benignly to Jinks, who had heard him throughout
with unspeakable awe.

'Who is this man, Grummer?' said the magistrate.

'Wery desp'rate ch'racter, your Wash-up,' replied Grummer. 'He attempted
to rescue the prisoners, and assaulted the officers; so we took him into
custody, and brought him here.'

'You did quite right,' replied the magistrate. 'He is evidently a
desperate ruffian.'

'He is my servant, Sir,' said Mr. Pickwick angrily.

'Oh! he is your servant, is he?' said Mr. Nupkins. 'A conspiracy to
defeat the ends of justice, and murder its officers. Pickwick's servant.
Put that down, Mr. Jinks.'

Mr. Jinks did so.

'What's your name, fellow?' thundered Mr. Nupkins.

'Veller,' replied Sam.

'A very good name for the Newgate Calendar,' said Mr. Nupkins.

This was a joke; so Jinks, Grummer, Dubbley, all the specials, and
Muzzle, went into fits of laughter of five minutes' duration.

'Put down his name, Mr. Jinks,' said the magistrate.

'Two L's, old feller,' said Sam.

Here an unfortunate special laughed again, whereupon the magistrate
threatened to commit him instantly. It is a dangerous thing to laugh at
the wrong man, in these cases.

'Where do you live?' said the magistrate.

'Vere ever I can,' replied Sam.

'Put down that, Mr. Jinks,' said the magistrate, who was fast rising
into a rage.

'Score it under,' said Sam.

'He is a vagabond, Mr. Jinks,' said the magistrate. 'He is a vagabond on
his own statement,--is he not, Mr. Jinks?'

'Certainly, Sir.'

'Then I'll commit him--I'll commit him as such,' said Mr. Nupkins.

'This is a wery impartial country for justice, 'said Sam.'There ain't
a magistrate goin' as don't commit himself twice as he commits other
people.'

At this sally another special laughed, and then tried to look so
supernaturally solemn, that the magistrate detected him immediately.

'Grummer,' said Mr. Nupkins, reddening with passion, 'how dare you
select such an inefficient and disreputable person for a special
constable, as that man? How dare you do it, Sir?'

'I am very sorry, your Wash-up,' stammered Grummer.

'Very sorry!' said the furious magistrate. 'You shall repent of this
neglect of duty, Mr. Grummer; you shall be made an example of. Take that
fellow's staff away. He's drunk. You're drunk, fellow.'

'I am not drunk, your Worship,' said the man.

'You ARE drunk,' returned the magistrate. 'How dare you say you are not
drunk, Sir, when I say you are? Doesn't he smell of spirits, Grummer?'

'Horrid, your Wash-up,' replied Grummer, who had a vague impression that
there was a smell of rum somewhere.

'I knew he did,' said Mr. Nupkins. 'I saw he was drunk when he first
came into the room, by his excited eye. Did you observe his excited eye,
Mr. Jinks?'

'Certainly, Sir.'

'I haven't touched a drop of spirits this morning,' said the man, who
was as sober a fellow as need be.

'How dare you tell me a falsehood?' said Mr. Nupkins. 'Isn't he drunk at
this moment, Mr. Jinks?'

'Certainly, Sir,' replied Jinks.

'Mr. Jinks,' said the magistrate, 'I shall commit that man for contempt.
Make out his committal, Mr. Jinks.'

And committed the special would have been, only Jinks, who was the
magistrate's adviser (having had a legal education of three years in a
country attorney's office), whispered the magistrate that he thought
it wouldn't do; so the magistrate made a speech, and said, that in
consideration of the special's family, he would merely reprimand and
discharge him. Accordingly, the special was abused, vehemently, for a
quarter of an hour, and sent about his business; and Grummer, Dubbley,
Muzzle, and all the other specials, murmured their admiration of the
magnanimity of Mr. Nupkins.

'Now, Mr. Jinks,' said the magistrate, 'swear Grummer.'

Grummer was sworn directly; but as Grummer wandered, and Mr. Nupkins's
dinner was nearly ready, Mr. Nupkins cut the matter short, by putting
leading questions to Grummer, which Grummer answered as nearly in the
affirmative as he could. So the examination went off, all very smooth
and comfortable, and two assaults were proved against Mr. Weller, and
a threat against Mr. Winkle, and a push against Mr. Snodgrass. When all
this was done to the magistrate's satisfaction, the magistrate and Mr.
Jinks consulted in whispers.

The consultation having lasted about ten minutes, Mr. Jinks retired to
his end of the table; and the magistrate, with a preparatory cough, drew
himself up in his chair, and was proceeding to commence his address,
when Mr. Pickwick interposed.

'I beg your pardon, sir, for interrupting you,' said Mr. Pickwick; 'but
before you proceed to express, and act upon, any opinion you may have
formed on the statements which have been made here, I must claim my
right to be heard so far as I am personally concerned.'

'Hold your tongue, Sir,' said the magistrate peremptorily.

'I must submit to you, Sir--' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Hold your tongue, sir,' interposed the magistrate, 'or I shall order an
officer to remove you.'

'You may order your officers to do whatever you please, Sir,' said Mr.
Pickwick; 'and I have no doubt, from the specimen I have had of the
subordination preserved amongst them, that whatever you order, they will
execute, Sir; but I shall take the liberty, Sir, of claiming my right to
be heard, until I am removed by force.'

'Pickvick and principle!' exclaimed Mr. Weller, in a very audible voice.

'Sam, be quiet,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Dumb as a drum vith a hole in it, Sir,' replied Sam.

Mr. Nupkins looked at Mr. Pickwick with a gaze of intense astonishment,
at his displaying such unwonted temerity; and was apparently about to
return a very angry reply, when Mr. Jinks pulled him by the sleeve,
and whispered something in his ear. To this, the magistrate returned
a half-audible answer, and then the whispering was renewed. Jinks was
evidently remonstrating. At length the magistrate, gulping down, with a
very bad grace, his disinclination to hear anything more, turned to Mr.
Pickwick, and said sharply, 'What do you want to say?'

'First,' said Mr. Pickwick, sending a look through his spectacles, under
which even Nupkins quailed, 'first, I wish to know what I and my friend
have been brought here for?'

'Must I tell him?' whispered the magistrate to Jinks.

'I think you had better, sir,' whispered Jinks to the magistrate. 'An
information has been sworn before me,' said the magistrate, 'that it
is apprehended you are going to fight a duel, and that the other man,
Tupman, is your aider and abettor in it. Therefore--eh, Mr. Jinks?'

'Certainly, sir.'

'Therefore, I call upon you both, to--I think that's the course, Mr.
Jinks?'

'Certainly, Sir.'

'To--to--what, Mr. Jinks?' said the magistrate pettishly.

'To find bail, sir.'

'Yes. Therefore, I call upon you both--as I was about to say when I
was interrupted by my clerk--to find bail.' 'Good bail,' whispered Mr.
Jinks.

'I shall require good bail,' said the magistrate.

'Town's-people,' whispered Jinks.

'They must be townspeople,' said the magistrate.

'Fifty pounds each,' whispered Jinks, 'and householders, of course.'

'I shall require two sureties of fifty pounds each,' said the magistrate
aloud, with great dignity, 'and they must be householders, of course.'

'But bless my heart, Sir,' said Mr. Pickwick, who, together with Mr.
Tupman, was all amazement and indignation; 'we are perfect strangers
in this town. I have as little knowledge of any householders here, as I
have intention of fighting a duel with anybody.'

'I dare say,' replied the magistrate, 'I dare say--don't you, Mr.
Jinks?'

'Certainly, Sir.'

'Have you anything more to say?' inquired the magistrate.

Mr. Pickwick had a great deal more to say, which he would no doubt
have said, very little to his own advantage, or the magistrate's
satisfaction, if he had not, the moment he ceased speaking, been pulled
by the sleeve by Mr. Weller, with whom he was immediately engaged in
so earnest a conversation, that he suffered the magistrate's inquiry to
pass wholly unnoticed. Mr. Nupkins was not the man to ask a question
of the kind twice over; and so, with another preparatory cough,
he proceeded, amidst the reverential and admiring silence of the
constables, to pronounce his decision. He should fine Weller two pounds
for the first assault, and three pounds for the second. He should fine
Winkle two pounds, and Snodgrass one pound, besides requiring them to
enter into their own recognisances to keep the peace towards all his
Majesty's subjects, and especially towards his liege servant, Daniel
Grummer. Pickwick and Tupman he had already held to bail.

Immediately on the magistrate ceasing to speak, Mr. Pickwick, with a
smile mantling on his again good-humoured countenance, stepped forward,
and said--

'I beg the magistrate's pardon, but may I request a few minutes' private
conversation with him, on a matter of deep importance to himself?'

'What?' said the magistrate. Mr. Pickwick repeated his request.

'This is a most extraordinary request,' said the magistrate. 'A private
interview?'

'A private interview,' replied Mr. Pickwick firmly; 'only, as a part of
the information which I wish to communicate is derived from my servant,
I should wish him to be present.'

The magistrate looked at Mr. Jinks; Mr. Jinks looked at the magistrate;
the officers looked at each other in amazement. Mr. Nupkins turned
suddenly pale. Could the man Weller, in a moment of remorse, have
divulged some secret conspiracy for his assassination? It was a dreadful
thought. He was a public man; and he turned paler, as he thought of
Julius Caesar and Mr. Perceval.

The magistrate looked at Mr. Pickwick again, and beckoned Mr. Jinks.

'What do you think of this request, Mr. Jinks?' murmured Mr. Nupkins.

Mr. Jinks, who didn't exactly know what to think of it, and was afraid
he might offend, smiled feebly, after a dubious fashion, and, screwing
up the corners of his mouth, shook his head slowly from side to side.

'Mr. Jinks,' said the magistrate gravely, 'you are an ass.'

At this little expression of opinion, Mr. Jinks smiled again--rather
more feebly than before--and edged himself, by degrees, back into his
own corner.

Mr. Nupkins debated the matter within himself for a few seconds, and
then, rising from his chair, and requesting Mr. Pickwick and Sam
to follow him, led the way into a small room which opened into the
justice-parlour. Desiring Mr. Pickwick to walk to the upper end of the
little apartment, and holding his hand upon the half-closed door, that
he might be able to effect an immediate escape, in case there was the
least tendency to a display of hostilities, Mr. Nupkins expressed his
readiness to hear the communication, whatever it might be.

'I will come to the point at once, sir,' said Mr. Pickwick; 'it affects
yourself and your credit materially. I have every reason to believe,
Sir, that you are harbouring in your house a gross impostor!'

'Two,' interrupted Sam. 'Mulberry agin all natur, for tears and
willainny!'

'Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'if I am to render myself intelligible to this
gentleman, I must beg you to control your feelings.'

'Wery sorry, Sir,' replied Mr. Weller; 'but when I think o' that 'ere
Job, I can't help opening the walve a inch or two.'

'In one word, Sir,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'is my servant right in
suspecting that a certain Captain Fitz-Marshall is in the habit of
visiting here? Because,' added Mr. Pickwick, as he saw that Mr. Nupkins
was about to offer a very indignant interruption, 'because if he be, I
know that person to be a--'

'Hush, hush,' said Mr. Nupkins, closing the door. 'Know him to be what,
Sir?'

'An unprincipled adventurer--a dishonourable character--a man who preys
upon society, and makes easily-deceived people his dupes, Sir; his
absurd, his foolish, his wretched dupes, Sir,' said the excited Mr.
Pickwick.

'Dear me,' said Mr. Nupkins, turning very red, and altering his whole
manner directly. 'Dear me, Mr.--'

'Pickvick,' said Sam.

'Pickwick,' said the magistrate, 'dear me, Mr. Pickwick--pray take a
seat--you cannot mean this? Captain Fitz-Marshall!'

'Don't call him a cap'en,' said Sam, 'nor Fitz-Marshall neither; he
ain't neither one nor t'other. He's a strolling actor, he is, and his
name's Jingle; and if ever there was a wolf in a mulberry suit, that
'ere Job Trotter's him.'

'It is very true, Sir,' said Mr. Pickwick, replying to the magistrate's
look of amazement; 'my only business in this town, is to expose the
person of whom we now speak.'

Mr. Pickwick proceeded to pour into the horror-stricken ear of Mr.
Nupkins, an abridged account of all Mr. Jingle's atrocities. He related
how he had first met him; how he had eloped with Miss Wardle; how he had
cheerfully resigned the lady for a pecuniary consideration; how he had
entrapped himself into a lady's boarding-school at midnight; and how
he (Mr. Pickwick) now felt it his duty to expose his assumption of his
present name and rank.

As the narrative proceeded, all the warm blood in the body of Mr.
Nupkins tingled up into the very tips of his ears. He had picked up the
captain at a neighbouring race-course. Charmed with his long list of
aristocratic acquaintance, his extensive travel, and his fashionable
demeanour, Mrs. Nupkins and Miss Nupkins had exhibited Captain
Fitz-Marshall, and quoted Captain Fitz-Marshall, and hurled Captain
Fitz-Marshall at the devoted heads of their select circle of
acquaintance, until their bosom friends, Mrs. Porkenham and the Misses
Porkenhams, and Mr. Sidney Porkenham, were ready to burst with
jealousy and despair. And now, to hear, after all, that he was a needy
adventurer, a strolling player, and if not a swindler, something so very
like it, that it was hard to tell the difference! Heavens! what would
the Porkenhams say! What would be the triumph of Mr. Sidney Porkenham
when he found that his addresses had been slighted for such a rival!
How should he, Nupkins, meet the eye of old Porkenham at the next
quarter-sessions! And what a handle would it be for the opposition
magisterial party if the story got abroad!

'But after all,' said Mr. Nupkins, brightening for a moment, after a
long pause; 'after all, this is a mere statement. Captain Fitz-Marshall
is a man of very engaging manners, and, I dare say, has many enemies.
What proof have you of the truth of these representations?'

'Confront me with him,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'that is all I ask, and all
I require. Confront him with me and my friends here; you will want no
further proof.'

'Why,' said Mr. Nupkins, 'that might be very easily done, for he will
be here to-night, and then there would be no occasion to make the matter
public, just--just--for the young man's own sake, you know. I--I--should
like to consult Mrs. Nupkins on the propriety of the step, in the first
instance, though. At all events, Mr. Pickwick, we must despatch this
legal business before we can do anything else. Pray step back into the
next room.'

Into the next room they went.

'Grummer,' said the magistrate, in an awful voice.

'Your Wash-up,' replied Grummer, with the smile of a favourite.

'Come, come, Sir,' said the magistrate sternly, 'don't let me see any of
this levity here. It is very unbecoming, and I can assure you that
you have very little to smile at. Was the account you gave me just now
strictly true? Now be careful, sir!' 'Your Wash-up,' stammered Grummer,
'I-'

'Oh, you are confused, are you?' said the magistrate. 'Mr. Jinks, you
observe this confusion?'

'Certainly, Sir,' replied Jinks.

'Now,' said the magistrate, 'repeat your statement, Grummer, and again I
warn you to be careful. Mr. Jinks, take his words down.'

The unfortunate Grummer proceeded to re-state his complaint, but, what
between Mr. Jinks's taking down his words, and the magistrate's taking
them up, his natural tendency to rambling, and his extreme confusion,
he managed to get involved, in something under three minutes, in such
a mass of entanglement and contradiction, that Mr. Nupkins at once
declared he didn't believe him. So the fines were remitted, and
Mr. Jinks found a couple of bail in no time. And all these solemn
proceedings having been satisfactorily concluded, Mr. Grummer was
ignominiously ordered out--an awful instance of the instability of human
greatness, and the uncertain tenure of great men's favour.

Mrs. Nupkins was a majestic female in a pink gauze turban and a light
brown wig. Miss Nupkins possessed all her mamma's haughtiness without
the turban, and all her ill-nature without the wig; and whenever the
exercise of these two amiable qualities involved mother and daughter
in some unpleasant dilemma, as they not infrequently did, they
both concurred in laying the blame on the shoulders of Mr. Nupkins.
Accordingly, when Mr. Nupkins sought Mrs. Nupkins, and detailed the
communication which had been made by Mr. Pickwick, Mrs. Nupkins suddenly
recollected that she had always expected something of the kind; that she
had always said it would be so; that her advice was never taken; that
she really did not know what Mr. Nupkins supposed she was; and so forth.

'The idea!' said Miss Nupkins, forcing a tear of very scanty proportions
into the corner of each eye; 'the idea of my being made such a fool of!'

'Ah! you may thank your papa, my dear,' said Mrs. Nupkins; 'how I
have implored and begged that man to inquire into the captain's family
connections; how I have urged and entreated him to take some decisive
step! I am quite certain nobody would believe it--quite.'

'But, my dear,' said Mr. Nupkins.

'Don't talk to me, you aggravating thing, don't!' said Mrs. Nupkins.

'My love,' said Mr. Nupkins, 'you professed yourself very fond of
Captain Fitz-Marshall. You have constantly asked him here, my dear, and
you have lost no opportunity of introducing him elsewhere.'

'Didn't I say so, Henrietta?' cried Mrs. Nupkins, appealing to her
daughter with the air of a much-injured female. 'Didn't I say that your
papa would turn round and lay all this at my door? Didn't I say so?'
Here Mrs. Nupkins sobbed.

'Oh, pa!' remonstrated Miss Nupkins. And here she sobbed too.

'Isn't it too much, when he has brought all this disgrace and ridicule
upon us, to taunt me with being the cause of it?' exclaimed Mrs.
Nupkins.

'How can we ever show ourselves in society!' said Miss Nupkins.

'How can we face the Porkenhams?' cried Mrs. Nupkins.

'Or the Griggs!' cried Miss Nupkins. 'Or the Slummintowkens!' cried
Mrs. Nupkins. 'But what does your papa care! What is it to HIM!' At this
dreadful reflection, Mrs. Nupkins wept mental anguish, and Miss Nupkins
followed on the same side.

Mrs. Nupkins's tears continued to gush forth, with great velocity, until
she had gained a little time to think the matter over; when she decided,
in her own mind, that the best thing to do would be to ask Mr. Pickwick
and his friends to remain until the captain's arrival, and then to
give Mr. Pickwick the opportunity he sought. If it appeared that he
had spoken truly, the captain could be turned out of the house without
noising the matter abroad, and they could easily account to the
Porkenhams for his disappearance, by saying that he had been appointed,
through the Court influence of his family, to the governor-generalship
of Sierra Leone, of Saugur Point, or any other of those salubrious
climates which enchant Europeans so much, that when they once get there,
they can hardly ever prevail upon themselves to come back again.

When Mrs. Nupkins dried up her tears, Miss Nupkins dried up hers, and
Mr. Nupkins was very glad to settle the matter as Mrs. Nupkins had
proposed. So Mr. Pickwick and his friends, having washed off all
marks of their late encounter, were introduced to the ladies, and soon
afterwards to their dinner; and Mr. Weller, whom the magistrate, with
his peculiar sagacity, had discovered in half an hour to be one of the
finest fellows alive, was consigned to the care and guardianship of Mr.
Muzzle, who was specially enjoined to take him below, and make much of
him.

'How de do, sir?' said Mr. Muzzle, as he conducted Mr. Weller down the
kitchen stairs.

'Why, no considerable change has taken place in the state of my system,
since I see you cocked up behind your governor's chair in the parlour, a
little vile ago,' replied Sam.

'You will excuse my not taking more notice of you then,' said Mr.
Muzzle. 'You see, master hadn't introduced us, then. Lord, how fond he
is of you, Mr. Weller, to be sure!'

'Ah!' said Sam, 'what a pleasant chap he is!'

'Ain't he?'replied Mr. Muzzle.

'So much humour,' said Sam.

'And such a man to speak,' said Mr. Muzzle. 'How his ideas flow, don't
they?'

'Wonderful,' replied Sam; 'they comes a-pouring out, knocking each
other's heads so fast, that they seems to stun one another; you hardly
know what he's arter, do you?' 'That's the great merit of his style of
speaking,' rejoined Mr. Muzzle. 'Take care of the last step, Mr. Weller.
Would you like to wash your hands, sir, before we join the ladies'!
Here's a sink, with the water laid on, Sir, and a clean jack towel
behind the door.'

'Ah! perhaps I may as well have a rinse,' replied Mr. Weller, applying
plenty of yellow soap to the towel, and rubbing away till his face shone
again. 'How many ladies are there?'

'Only two in our kitchen,' said Mr. Muzzle; 'cook and 'ouse-maid. We
keep a boy to do the dirty work, and a gal besides, but they dine in the
wash'us.'

'Oh, they dines in the wash'us, do they?' said Mr. Weller.

'Yes,' replied Mr. Muzzle, 'we tried 'em at our table when they first
come, but we couldn't keep 'em. The gal's manners is dreadful vulgar;
and the boy breathes so very hard while he's eating, that we found it
impossible to sit at table with him.'

'Young grampus!' said Mr. Weller.

'Oh, dreadful,' rejoined Mr. Muzzle; 'but that is the worst of country
service, Mr. Weller; the juniors is always so very savage. This way,
sir, if you please, this way.'

Preceding Mr. Weller, with the utmost politeness, Mr. Muzzle conducted
him into the kitchen.

'Mary,' said Mr. Muzzle to the pretty servant-girl, 'this is Mr. Weller;
a gentleman as master has sent down, to be made as comfortable as
possible.'

'And your master's a knowin' hand, and has just sent me to the right
place,' said Mr. Weller, with a glance of admiration at Mary. 'If I
wos master o' this here house, I should alvays find the materials for
comfort vere Mary wos.' 'Lor, Mr. Weller!' said Mary blushing.

'Well, I never!' ejaculated the cook.

'Bless me, cook, I forgot you,' said Mr. Muzzle. 'Mr. Weller, let me
introduce you.'

'How are you, ma'am?' said Mr. Weller.'Wery glad to see you, indeed, and
hope our acquaintance may be a long 'un, as the gen'l'm'n said to the
fi' pun' note.'

When this ceremony of introduction had been gone through, the cook and
Mary retired into the back kitchen to titter, for ten minutes; then
returning, all giggles and blushes, they sat down to dinner. Mr.
Weller's easy manners and conversational powers had such irresistible
influence with his new friends, that before the dinner was half over,
they were on a footing of perfect intimacy, and in possession of a full
account of the delinquency of Job Trotter.

'I never could a-bear that Job,' said Mary.

'No more you never ought to, my dear,' replied Mr. Weller.

'Why not?' inquired Mary.

''Cos ugliness and svindlin' never ought to be formiliar with elegance
and wirtew,' replied Mr. Weller. 'Ought they, Mr. Muzzle?'

'Not by no means,' replied that gentleman.

Here Mary laughed, and said the cook had made her; and the cook laughed,
and said she hadn't.

'I ha'n't got a glass,' said Mary.

'Drink with me, my dear,' said Mr. Weller. 'Put your lips to this here
tumbler, and then I can kiss you by deputy.'

'For shame, Mr. Weller!' said Mary.

'What's a shame, my dear?'

'Talkin' in that way.'

'Nonsense; it ain't no harm. It's natur; ain't it, cook?'

'Don't ask me, imperence,' replied the cook, in a high state of delight;
and hereupon the cook and Mary laughed again, till what between the
beer, and the cold meat, and the laughter combined, the latter young
lady was brought to the verge of choking--an alarming crisis from which
she was only recovered by sundry pats on the back, and other necessary
attentions, most delicately administered by Mr. Samuel Weller. In the
midst of all this jollity and conviviality, a loud ring was heard at
the garden gate, to which the young gentleman who took his meals in the
wash-house, immediately responded. Mr. Weller was in the height of
his attentions to the pretty house-maid; Mr. Muzzle was busy doing the
honours of the table; and the cook had just paused to laugh, in the very
act of raising a huge morsel to her lips; when the kitchen door opened,
and in walked Mr. Job Trotter.

We have said in walked Mr. Job Trotter, but the statement is not
distinguished by our usual scrupulous adherence to fact. The door opened
and Mr. Trotter appeared. He would have walked in, and was in the
very act of doing so, indeed, when catching sight of Mr. Weller,
he involuntarily shrank back a pace or two, and stood gazing on the
unexpected scene before him, perfectly motionless with amazement and
terror.

'Here he is!' said Sam, rising with great glee. 'Why we were that wery
moment a-speaking o' you. How are you? Where have you been? Come in.'

Laying his hand on the mulberry collar of the unresisting Job, Mr.
Weller dragged him into the kitchen; and, locking the door, handed the
key to Mr. Muzzle, who very coolly buttoned it up in a side pocket.

'Well, here's a game!' cried Sam. 'Only think o' my master havin' the
pleasure o' meeting yourn upstairs, and me havin' the joy o' meetin'
you down here. How are you gettin' on, and how is the chandlery bis'ness
likely to do? Well, I am so glad to see you. How happy you look. It's
quite a treat to see you; ain't it, Mr. Muzzle?'

'Quite,' said Mr. Muzzle.

'So cheerful he is!' said Sam.

'In such good spirits!' said Muzzle. 'And so glad to see us--that makes
it so much more comfortable,' said Sam. 'Sit down; sit down.'

Mr. Trotter suffered himself to be forced into a chair by the fireside.
He cast his small eyes, first on Mr. Weller, and then on Mr. Muzzle, but
said nothing.

'Well, now,' said Sam, 'afore these here ladies, I should jest like to
ask you, as a sort of curiosity, whether you don't consider yourself
as nice and well-behaved a young gen'l'm'n, as ever used a pink check
pocket-handkerchief, and the number four collection?'

'And as was ever a-going to be married to a cook,' said that lady
indignantly. 'The willin!'

'And leave off his evil ways, and set up in the chandlery line
arterwards,' said the housemaid.

'Now, I'll tell you what it is, young man,' said Mr. Muzzle solemnly,
enraged at the last two allusions, 'this here lady (pointing to the
cook) keeps company with me; and when you presume, Sir, to talk of
keeping chandlers' shops with her, you injure me in one of the most
delicatest points in which one man can injure another. Do you understand
that, Sir?'

Here Mr. Muzzle, who had a great notion of his eloquence, in which he
imitated his master, paused for a reply.

But Mr. Trotter made no reply. So Mr. Muzzle proceeded in a solemn
manner--

'It's very probable, sir, that you won't be wanted upstairs for several
minutes, Sir, because MY master is at this moment particularly engaged
in settling the hash of YOUR master, Sir; and therefore you'll have
leisure, Sir, for a little private talk with me, Sir. Do you understand
that, Sir?'

Mr. Muzzle again paused for a reply; and again Mr. Trotter disappointed
him.

'Well, then,' said Mr. Muzzle, 'I'm very sorry to have to explain myself
before ladies, but the urgency of the case will be my excuse. The back
kitchen's empty, Sir. If you will step in there, Sir, Mr. Weller will
see fair, and we can have mutual satisfaction till the bell rings.
Follow me, Sir!'

As Mr. Muzzle uttered these words, he took a step or two towards the
door; and, by way of saving time, began to pull off his coat as he
walked along.

Now, the cook no sooner heard the concluding words of this desperate
challenge, and saw Mr. Muzzle about to put it into execution, than she
uttered a loud and piercing shriek; and rushing on Mr. Job Trotter, who
rose from his chair on the instant, tore and buffeted his large flat
face, with an energy peculiar to excited females, and twining her hands
in his long black hair, tore therefrom about enough to make five or six
dozen of the very largest-sized mourning-rings. Having accomplished this
feat with all the ardour which her devoted love for Mr. Muzzle inspired,
she staggered back; and being a lady of very excitable and delicate
feelings, she instantly fell under the dresser, and fainted away.

At this moment, the bell rang.

'That's for you, Job Trotter,' said Sam; and before Mr. Trotter could
offer remonstrance or reply--even before he had time to stanch the
wounds inflicted by the insensible lady--Sam seized one arm and Mr.
Muzzle the other, and one pulling before, and the other pushing behind,
they conveyed him upstairs, and into the parlour.

It was an impressive tableau. Alfred Jingle, Esquire, alias Captain
Fitz-Marshall, was standing near the door with his hat in his hand, and
a smile on his face, wholly unmoved by his very unpleasant situation.
Confronting him, stood Mr. Pickwick, who had evidently been inculcating
some high moral lesson; for his left hand was beneath his coat tail, and
his right extended in air, as was his wont when delivering himself of
an impressive address. At a little distance, stood Mr. Tupman with
indignant countenance, carefully held back by his two younger friends;
at the farther end of the room were Mr. Nupkins, Mrs. Nupkins, and Miss
Nupkins, gloomily grand and savagely vexed. 'What prevents me,' said Mr.
Nupkins, with magisterial dignity, as Job was brought in--'what prevents
me from detaining these men as rogues and impostors? It is a foolish
mercy. What prevents me?'

'Pride, old fellow, pride,' replied Jingle, quite at his ease. 'Wouldn't
do--no go--caught a captain, eh?--ha! ha! very good--husband for
daughter--biter bit--make it public--not for worlds--look stupid--very!'

'Wretch,' said Mr. Nupkins, 'we scorn your base insinuations.'

'I always hated him,' added Henrietta.

'Oh, of course,' said Jingle. 'Tall young man--old lover--Sidney
Porkenham--rich--fine fellow--not so rich as captain, though, eh?--turn
him away--off with him--anything for captain--nothing like captain
anywhere--all the girls--raving mad--eh, Job, eh?'

Here Mr. Jingle laughed very heartily; and Job, rubbing his hands with
delight, uttered the first sound he had given vent to since he entered
the house--a low, noiseless chuckle, which seemed to intimate that
he enjoyed his laugh too much, to let any of it escape in sound. 'Mr.
Nupkins,' said the elder lady,'this is not a fit conversation for the
servants to overhear. Let these wretches be removed.'

'Certainly, my dear,' Said Mr. Nupkins. 'Muzzle!'

'Your Worship.'

'Open the front door.'

'Yes, your Worship.'

'Leave the house!' said Mr. Nupkins, waving his hand emphatically.

Jingle smiled, and moved towards the door.

'Stay!' said Mr. Pickwick. Jingle stopped.

'I might,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'have taken a much greater revenge for
the treatment I have experienced at your hands, and that of your
hypocritical friend there.'

Job Trotter bowed with great politeness, and laid his hand upon his
heart.

'I say,' said Mr. Pickwick, growing gradually angry, 'that I might have
taken a greater revenge, but I content myself with exposing you, which I
consider a duty I owe to society. This is a leniency, Sir, which I hope
you will remember.'

When Mr. Pickwick arrived at this point, Job Trotter, with facetious
gravity, applied his hand to his ear, as if desirous not to lose a
syllable he uttered.

'And I have only to add, sir,' said Mr. Pickwick, now thoroughly angry,
'that I consider you a rascal, and a--a--ruffian--and--and worse than
any man I ever saw, or heard of, except that pious and sanctified
vagabond in the mulberry livery.'

'Ha! ha!' said Jingle, 'good fellow, Pickwick--fine heart--stout old
boy--but must NOT be passionate--bad thing, very--bye, bye--see you
again some day--keep up your spirits--now, Job--trot!'

With these words, Mr. Jingle stuck on his hat in his old fashion, and
strode out of the room. Job Trotter paused, looked round, smiled and
then with a bow of mock solemnity to Mr. Pickwick, and a wink to Mr.
Weller, the audacious slyness of which baffles all description, followed
the footsteps of his hopeful master.

'Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick, as Mr. Weller was following.

'Sir.' 'Stay here.'

Mr. Weller seemed uncertain.

'Stay here,' repeated Mr. Pickwick.

'Mayn't I polish that 'ere Job off, in the front garden?' said Mr.
Weller. 'Certainly not,' replied Mr. Pickwick.

'Mayn't I kick him out o' the gate, Sir?' said Mr. Weller.

'Not on any account,' replied his master.

For the first time since his engagement, Mr. Weller looked, for a
moment, discontented and unhappy. But his countenance immediately
cleared up; for the wily Mr. Muzzle, by concealing himself behind the
street door, and rushing violently out, at the right instant, contrived
with great dexterity to overturn both Mr. Jingle and his attendant, down
the flight of steps, into the American aloe tubs that stood beneath.

'Having discharged my duty, Sir,' said Mr. Pickwick to Mr. Nupkins, 'I
will, with my friends, bid you farewell. While we thank you for such
hospitality as we have received, permit me to assure you, in our
joint names, that we should not have accepted it, or have consented to
extricate ourselves in this way, from our previous dilemma, had we not
been impelled by a strong sense of duty. We return to London to-morrow.
Your secret is safe with us.'

Having thus entered his protest against their treatment of the
morning, Mr. Pickwick bowed low to the ladies, and notwithstanding the
solicitations of the family, left the room with his friends.

'Get your hat, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'It's below stairs, Sir,' said Sam, and he ran down after it.

Now, there was nobody in the kitchen, but the pretty housemaid; and as
Sam's hat was mislaid, he had to look for it, and the pretty housemaid
lighted him. They had to look all over the place for the hat. The pretty
housemaid, in her anxiety to find it, went down on her knees, and turned
over all the things that were heaped together in a little corner by the
door. It was an awkward corner. You couldn't get at it without shutting
the door first.

'Here it is,' said the pretty housemaid. 'This is it, ain't it?'

'Let me look,' said Sam.

The pretty housemaid had stood the candle on the floor; and, as it gave
a very dim light, Sam was obliged to go down on HIS knees before he
could see whether it really was his own hat or not. It was a remarkably
small corner, and so--it was nobody's fault but the man's who built
the house--Sam and the pretty housemaid were necessarily very close
together.

'Yes, this is it,' said Sam. 'Good-bye!'

'Good-bye!' said the pretty housemaid.

'Good-bye!' said Sam; and as he said it, he dropped the hat that had
cost so much trouble in looking for.

'How awkward you are,' said the pretty housemaid. 'You'll lose it again,
if you don't take care.'

So just to prevent his losing it again, she put it on for him.

Whether it was that the pretty housemaid's face looked prettier still,
when it was raised towards Sam's, or whether it was the accidental
consequence of their being so near to each other, is matter of
uncertainty to this day; but Sam kissed her.

'You don't mean to say you did that on purpose,' said the pretty
housemaid, blushing.

'No, I didn't then,' said Sam; 'but I will now.'

So he kissed her again. 'Sam!' said Mr. Pickwick, calling over the
banisters.

'Coming, Sir,' replied Sam, running upstairs.

'How long you have been!' said Mr. Pickwick.

'There was something behind the door, Sir, which perwented our getting
it open, for ever so long, Sir,' replied Sam.

And this was the first passage of Mr. Weller's first love.



CHAPTER XXVI. WHICH CONTAINS A BRIEF ACCOUNT OF THE PROGRESS OF THE
ACTION OF BARDELL AGAINST PICKWICK


Having accomplished the main end and object of his journey, by the
exposure of Jingle, Mr. Pickwick resolved on immediately returning to
London, with the view of becoming acquainted with the proceedings which
had been taken against him, in the meantime, by Messrs. Dodson and Fogg.
Acting upon this resolution with all the energy and decision of his
character, he mounted to the back seat of the first coach which left
Ipswich on the morning after the memorable occurrences detailed at
length in the two preceding chapters; and accompanied by his three
friends, and Mr. Samuel Weller, arrived in the metropolis, in perfect
health and safety, the same evening.

Here the friends, for a short time, separated. Messrs. Tupman, Winkle,
and Snodgrass repaired to their several homes to make such preparations
as might be requisite for their forthcoming visit to Dingley Dell;
and Mr. Pickwick and Sam took up their present abode in very good,
old-fashioned, and comfortable quarters, to wit, the George and Vulture
Tavern and Hotel, George Yard, Lombard Street.

Mr. Pickwick had dined, finished his second pint of particular port,
pulled his silk handkerchief over his head, put his feet on the fender,
and thrown himself back in an easy-chair, when the entrance of Mr.
Weller with his carpet-bag, aroused him from his tranquil meditation.

'Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'Sir,' said Mr. Weller.

'I have just been thinking, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'that having left
a good many things at Mrs. Bardell's, in Goswell Street, I ought to
arrange for taking them away, before I leave town again.'

'Wery good, sir,' replied Mr. Weller.

'I could send them to Mr. Tupman's, for the present, Sam,' continued
Mr. Pickwick, 'but before we take them away, it is necessary that they
should be looked up, and put together. I wish you would step up to
Goswell Street, Sam, and arrange about it.'

'At once, Sir?' inquired Mr. Weller.

'At once,' replied Mr. Pickwick. 'And stay, Sam,' added Mr. Pickwick,
pulling out his purse, 'there is some rent to pay. The quarter is not
due till Christmas, but you may pay it, and have done with it. A month's
notice terminates my tenancy. Here it is, written out. Give it, and tell
Mrs. Bardell she may put a bill up, as soon as she likes.'

'Wery good, sir,' replied Mr. Weller; 'anythin' more, sir?'

'Nothing more, Sam.'

Mr. Weller stepped slowly to the door, as if he expected something more;
slowly opened it, slowly stepped out, and had slowly closed it within a
couple of inches, when Mr. Pickwick called out--

'Sam.'

'Yes, sir,' said Mr. Weller, stepping quickly back, and closing the door
behind him. 'I have no objection, Sam, to your endeavouring to ascertain
how Mrs. Bardell herself seems disposed towards me, and whether it is
really probable that this vile and groundless action is to be carried
to extremity. I say I do not object to you doing this, if you wish it,
Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick.

Sam gave a short nod of intelligence, and left the room. Mr. Pickwick
drew the silk handkerchief once more over his head, And composed himself
for a nap. Mr. Weller promptly walked forth, to execute his commission.

It was nearly nine o'clock when he reached Goswell Street. A couple of
candles were burning in the little front parlour, and a couple of caps
were reflected on the window-blind. Mrs. Bardell had got company.

Mr. Weller knocked at the door, and after a pretty long
interval--occupied by the party without, in whistling a tune, and by the
party within, in persuading a refractory flat candle to allow itself
to be lighted--a pair of small boots pattered over the floor-cloth, and
Master Bardell presented himself.

'Well, young townskip,' said Sam, 'how's mother?'

'She's pretty well,' replied Master Bardell, 'so am I.'

'Well, that's a mercy,' said Sam; 'tell her I want to speak to her, will
you, my hinfant fernomenon?'

Master Bardell, thus adjured, placed the refractory flat candle on the
bottom stair, and vanished into the front parlour with his message.

The two caps, reflected on the window-blind, were the respective
head-dresses of a couple of Mrs. Bardell's most particular acquaintance,
who had just stepped in, to have a quiet cup of tea, and a little warm
supper of a couple of sets of pettitoes and some toasted cheese. The
cheese was simmering and browning away, most delightfully, in a little
Dutch oven before the fire; the pettitoes were getting on deliciously in
a little tin saucepan on the hob; and Mrs. Bardell and her two friends
were getting on very well, also, in a little quiet conversation about
and concerning all their particular friends and acquaintance; when
Master Bardell came back from answering the door, and delivered the
message intrusted to him by Mr. Samuel Weller.

'Mr. Pickwick's servant!' said Mrs. Bardell, turning pale.

'Bless my soul!' said Mrs. Cluppins.

'Well, I raly would not ha' believed it, unless I had ha' happened to
ha' been here!' said Mrs. Sanders.

Mrs. Cluppins was a little, brisk, busy-looking woman; Mrs. Sanders was
a big, fat, heavy-faced personage; and the two were the company.

Mrs. Bardell felt it proper to be agitated; and as none of the three
exactly knew whether under existing circumstances, any communication,
otherwise than through Dodson & Fogg, ought to be held with Mr.
Pickwick's servant, they were all rather taken by surprise. In this
state of indecision, obviously the first thing to be done, was to thump
the boy for finding Mr. Weller at the door. So his mother thumped him,
and he cried melodiously.

'Hold your noise--do--you naughty creetur!' said Mrs. Bardell.

'Yes; don't worrit your poor mother,' said Mrs. Sanders.

'She's quite enough to worrit her, as it is, without you, Tommy,' said
Mrs. Cluppins, with sympathising resignation.

'Ah! worse luck, poor lamb!' said Mrs. Sanders. At all which moral
reflections, Master Bardell howled the louder.

'Now, what shall I do?' said Mrs. Bardell to Mrs. Cluppins.

'I think you ought to see him,' replied Mrs. Cluppins. 'But on no
account without a witness.'

'I think two witnesses would be more lawful,' said Mrs. Sanders, who,
like the other friend, was bursting with curiosity.

'Perhaps he'd better come in here,' said Mrs. Bardell.

'To be sure,' replied Mrs. Cluppins, eagerly catching at the idea; 'walk
in, young man; and shut the street door first, please.'

Mr. Weller immediately took the hint; and presenting himself in the
parlour, explained his business to Mrs. Bardell thus--

'Wery sorry to 'casion any personal inconwenience, ma'am, as the
housebreaker said to the old lady when he put her on the fire; but as me
and my governor 's only jest come to town, and is jest going away agin,
it can't be helped, you see.'

'Of course, the young man can't help the faults of his master,' said
Mrs. Cluppins, much struck by Mr. Weller's appearance and conversation.

'Certainly not,' chimed in Mrs. Sanders, who, from certain wistful
glances at the little tin saucepan, seemed to be engaged in a mental
calculation of the probable extent of the pettitoes, in the event of
Sam's being asked to stop to supper.

'So all I've come about, is jest this here,' said Sam, disregarding
the interruption; 'first, to give my governor's notice--there it is.
Secondly, to pay the rent--here it is. Thirdly, to say as all his
things is to be put together, and give to anybody as we sends for 'em.
Fourthly, that you may let the place as soon as you like--and that's
all.'

'Whatever has happened,' said Mrs. Bardell, 'I always have said, and
always will say, that in every respect but one, Mr. Pickwick has always
behaved himself like a perfect gentleman. His money always as good as
the bank--always.'

As Mrs. Bardell said this, she applied her handkerchief to her eyes, and
went out of the room to get the receipt.

Sam well knew that he had only to remain quiet, and the women were
sure to talk; so he looked alternately at the tin saucepan, the toasted
cheese, the wall, and the ceiling, in profound silence.

'Poor dear!' said Mrs. Cluppins.

'Ah, poor thing!' replied Mrs. Sanders. Sam said nothing. He saw they
were coming to the subject.

'I raly cannot contain myself,' said Mrs. Cluppins, 'when I think of
such perjury. I don't wish to say anything to make you uncomfortable,
young man, but your master's an old brute, and I wish I had him here to
tell him so.' 'I wish you had,' said Sam.

'To see how dreadful she takes on, going moping about, and taking no
pleasure in nothing, except when her friends comes in, out of charity,
to sit with her, and make her comfortable,' resumed Mrs. Cluppins,
glancing at the tin saucepan and the Dutch oven, 'it's shocking!'

'Barbareous,' said Mrs. Sanders.

'And your master, young man! A gentleman with money, as could never feel
the expense of a wife, no more than nothing,' continued Mrs. Cluppins,
with great volubility; 'why there ain't the faintest shade of an excuse
for his behaviour! Why don't he marry her?'

'Ah,' said Sam, 'to be sure; that's the question.'

'Question, indeed,' retorted Mrs. Cluppins, 'she'd question him,
if she'd my spirit. Hows'ever, there is law for us women, mis'rable
creeturs as they'd make us, if they could; and that your master will
find out, young man, to his cost, afore he's six months older.'

At this consolatory reflection, Mrs. Cluppins bridled up, and smiled at
Mrs. Sanders, who smiled back again.

'The action's going on, and no mistake,' thought Sam, as Mrs. Bardell
re-entered with the receipt.

'Here's the receipt, Mr. Weller,' said Mrs. Bardell, 'and here's the
change, and I hope you'll take a little drop of something to keep the
cold out, if it's only for old acquaintance' sake, Mr. Weller.'

Sam saw the advantage he should gain, and at once acquiesced; whereupon
Mrs. Bardell produced, from a small closet, a black bottle and a
wine-glass; and so great was her abstraction, in her deep mental
affliction, that, after filling Mr. Weller's glass, she brought out
three more wine-glasses, and filled them too.

'Lauk, Mrs. Bardell,' said Mrs. Cluppins, 'see what you've been and
done!'

'Well, that is a good one!' ejaculated Mrs. Sanders.

'Ah, my poor head!' said Mrs. Bardell, with a faint smile.

Sam understood all this, of course, so he said at once, that he never
could drink before supper, unless a lady drank with him. A great deal of
laughter ensued, and Mrs. Sanders volunteered to humour him, so she took
a slight sip out of her glass. Then Sam said it must go all round, so
they all took a slight sip. Then little Mrs. Cluppins proposed as a
toast, 'Success to Bardell agin Pickwick'; and then the ladies emptied
their glasses in honour of the sentiment, and got very talkative
directly.

'I suppose you've heard what's going forward, Mr. Weller?' said Mrs.
Bardell.

'I've heerd somethin' on it,' replied Sam.

'It's a terrible thing to be dragged before the public, in that way, Mr.
Weller,' said Mrs. Bardell; 'but I see now, that it's the only thing I
ought to do, and my lawyers, Mr. Dodson and Fogg, tell me that, with the
evidence as we shall call, we must succeed. I don't know what I should
do, Mr. Weller, if I didn't.'

The mere idea of Mrs. Bardell's failing in her action, affected Mrs.
Sanders so deeply, that she was under the necessity of refilling and
re-emptying her glass immediately; feeling, as she said afterwards, that
if she hadn't had the presence of mind to do so, she must have dropped.

'Ven is it expected to come on?' inquired Sam.

'Either in February or March,' replied Mrs. Bardell.

'What a number of witnesses there'll be, won't there?' said Mrs.
Cluppins.

'Ah! won't there!' replied Mrs. Sanders.

'And won't Mr. Dodson and Fogg be wild if the plaintiff shouldn't get
it?' added Mrs. Cluppins, 'when they do it all on speculation!'

'Ah! won't they!' said Mrs. Sanders.

'But the plaintiff must get it,' resumed Mrs. Cluppins.

'I hope so,' said Mrs. Bardell.

'Oh, there can't be any doubt about it,' rejoined Mrs. Sanders.

'Vell,' said Sam, rising and setting down his glass, 'all I can say is,
that I vish you MAY get it.'

'Thank'ee, Mr. Weller,' said Mrs. Bardell fervently.

'And of them Dodson and Foggs, as does these sort o' things on spec,'
continued Mr. Weller, 'as vell as for the other kind and gen'rous people
o' the same purfession, as sets people by the ears, free gratis for
nothin', and sets their clerks to work to find out little disputes
among their neighbours and acquaintances as vants settlin' by means of
lawsuits--all I can say o' them is, that I vish they had the reward I'd
give 'em.'

'Ah, I wish they had the reward that every kind and generous heart would
be inclined to bestow upon them!' said the gratified Mrs. Bardell.

'Amen to that,' replied Sam, 'and a fat and happy liven' they'd get out
of it! Wish you good-night, ladies.'

To the great relief of Mrs. Sanders, Sam was allowed to depart without
any reference, on the part of the hostess, to the pettitoes and toasted
cheese; to which the ladies, with such juvenile assistance as
Master Bardell could afford, soon afterwards rendered the amplest
justice--indeed they wholly vanished before their strenuous exertions.

Mr. Weller wended his way back to the George and Vulture, and faithfully
recounted to his master, such indications of the sharp practice of
Dodson & Fogg, as he had contrived to pick up in his visit to Mrs.
Bardell's. An interview with Mr. Perker, next day, more than confirmed
Mr. Weller's statement; and Mr. Pickwick was fain to prepare for his
Christmas visit to Dingley Dell, with the pleasant anticipation that
some two or three months afterwards, an action brought against him for
damages sustained by reason of a breach of promise of marriage, would
be publicly tried in the Court of Common Pleas; the plaintiff having all
the advantages derivable, not only from the force of circumstances, but
from the sharp practice of Dodson & Fogg to boot.



CHAPTER XXVII. SAMUEL WELLER MAKES A PILGRIMAGE TO DORKING, AND BEHOLDS
HIS MOTHER-IN-LAW


There still remaining an interval of two days before the time agreed
upon for the departure of the Pickwickians to Dingley Dell, Mr. Weller
sat himself down in a back room at the George and Vulture, after eating
an early dinner, to muse on the best way of disposing of his time. It
was a remarkably fine day; and he had not turned the matter over in his
mind ten minutes, when he was suddenly stricken filial and affectionate;
and it occurred to him so strongly that he ought to go down and see
his father, and pay his duty to his mother-in-law, that he was lost
in astonishment at his own remissness in never thinking of this moral
obligation before. Anxious to atone for his past neglect without another
hour's delay, he straightway walked upstairs to Mr. Pickwick, and
requested leave of absence for this laudable purpose.

'Certainly, Sam, certainly,' said Mr. Pickwick, his eyes glistening
with delight at this manifestation of filial feeling on the part of his
attendant; 'certainly, Sam.'

Mr. Weller made a grateful bow.

'I am very glad to see that you have so high a sense of your duties as a
son, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'I always had, sir,' replied Mr. Weller.

'That's a very gratifying reflection, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick
approvingly.

'Wery, Sir,' replied Mr. Weller; 'if ever I wanted anythin' o' my
father, I always asked for it in a wery 'spectful and obligin' manner.
If he didn't give it me, I took it, for fear I should be led to do
anythin' wrong, through not havin' it. I saved him a world o' trouble
this vay, Sir.'

'That's not precisely what I meant, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick, shaking his
head, with a slight smile.

'All good feelin', sir--the wery best intentions, as the gen'l'm'n said
ven he run away from his wife 'cos she seemed unhappy with him,' replied
Mr. Weller.

'You may go, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Thank'ee, Sir,' replied Mr. Weller; and having made his best bow, and
put on his best clothes, Sam planted himself on the top of the Arundel
coach, and journeyed on to Dorking.

The Marquis of Granby, in Mrs. Weller's time, was quite a model of
a roadside public-house of the better class--just large enough to be
convenient, and small enough to be snug. On the opposite side of the
road was a large sign-board on a high post, representing the head and
shoulders of a gentleman with an apoplectic countenance, in a red
coat with deep blue facings, and a touch of the same blue over his
three-cornered hat, for a sky. Over that again were a pair of flags;
beneath the last button of his coat were a couple of cannon; and the
whole formed an expressive and undoubted likeness of the Marquis of
Granby of glorious memory.

The bar window displayed a choice collection of geranium plants, and a
well-dusted row of spirit phials. The open shutters bore a variety of
golden inscriptions, eulogistic of good beds and neat wines; and the
choice group of countrymen and hostlers lounging about the stable door
and horse-trough, afforded presumptive proof of the excellent quality of
the ale and spirits which were sold within. Sam Weller paused, when he
dismounted from the coach, to note all these little indications of a
thriving business, with the eye of an experienced traveller; and having
done so, stepped in at once, highly satisfied with everything he had
observed.

'Now, then!' said a shrill female voice the instant Sam thrust his head
in at the door, 'what do you want, young man?'

Sam looked round in the direction whence the voice proceeded. It came
from a rather stout lady of comfortable appearance, who was seated
beside the fireplace in the bar, blowing the fire to make the kettle
boil for tea. She was not alone; for on the other side of the fireplace,
sitting bolt upright in a high-backed chair, was a man in threadbare
black clothes, with a back almost as long and stiff as that of the chair
itself, who caught Sam's most particular and especial attention at once.

He was a prim-faced, red-nosed man, with a long, thin countenance, and
a semi-rattlesnake sort of eye--rather sharp, but decidedly bad. He wore
very short trousers, and black cotton stockings, which, like the rest of
his apparel, were particularly rusty. His looks were starched, but his
white neckerchief was not, and its long limp ends straggled over his
closely-buttoned waistcoat in a very uncouth and unpicturesque fashion.
A pair of old, worn, beaver gloves, a broad-brimmed hat, and a faded
green umbrella, with plenty of whalebone sticking through the bottom,
as if to counterbalance the want of a handle at the top, lay on a chair
beside him; and, being disposed in a very tidy and careful manner,
seemed to imply that the red-nosed man, whoever he was, had no intention
of going away in a hurry.

To do the red-nosed man justice, he would have been very far from
wise if he had entertained any such intention; for, to judge from all
appearances, he must have been possessed of a most desirable circle
of acquaintance, if he could have reasonably expected to be more
comfortable anywhere else. The fire was blazing brightly under the
influence of the bellows, and the kettle was singing gaily under the
influence of both. A small tray of tea-things was arranged on the table;
a plate of hot buttered toast was gently simmering before the fire; and
the red-nosed man himself was busily engaged in converting a large slice
of bread into the same agreeable edible, through the instrumentality
of a long brass toasting-fork. Beside him stood a glass of reeking hot
pine-apple rum-and-water, with a slice of lemon in it; and every time
the red-nosed man stopped to bring the round of toast to his eye, with
the view of ascertaining how it got on, he imbibed a drop or two of the
hot pine-apple rum-and-water, and smiled upon the rather stout lady, as
she blew the fire.

Sam was so lost in the contemplation of this comfortable scene, that he
suffered the first inquiry of the rather stout lady to pass unheeded. It
was not until it had been twice repeated, each time in a shriller tone,
that he became conscious of the impropriety of his behaviour.

'Governor in?' inquired Sam, in reply to the question.

'No, he isn't,' replied Mrs. Weller; for the rather stout lady was no
other than the quondam relict and sole executrix of the dead-and-gone
Mr. Clarke; 'no, he isn't, and I don't expect him, either.'

'I suppose he's drivin' up to-day?' said Sam.

'He may be, or he may not,' replied Mrs. Weller, buttering the round
of toast which the red-nosed man had just finished. 'I don't know, and,
what's more, I don't care.--Ask a blessin', Mr. Stiggins.'

The red-nosed man did as he was desired, and instantly commenced on the
toast with fierce voracity.

The appearance of the red-nosed man had induced Sam, at first sight,
to more than half suspect that he was the deputy-shepherd of whom his
estimable parent had spoken. The moment he saw him eat, all doubt on
the subject was removed, and he perceived at once that if he purposed
to take up his temporary quarters where he was, he must make his footing
good without delay. He therefore commenced proceedings by putting his
arm over the half-door of the bar, coolly unbolting it, and leisurely
walking in.

'Mother-in-law,' said Sam, 'how are you?'

'Why, I do believe he is a Weller!' said Mrs. W., raising her eyes to
Sam's face, with no very gratified expression of countenance.

'I rayther think he is,' said the imperturbable Sam; 'and I hope this
here reverend gen'l'm'n 'll excuse me saying that I wish I was THE
Weller as owns you, mother-in-law.'

This was a double-barrelled compliment. It implied that Mrs. Weller
was a most agreeable female, and also that Mr. Stiggins had a clerical
appearance. It made a visible impression at once; and Sam followed up
his advantage by kissing his mother-in-law.

'Get along with you!' said Mrs. Weller, pushing him away. 'For shame,
young man!' said the gentleman with the red nose.

'No offence, sir, no offence,' replied Sam; 'you're wery right, though;
it ain't the right sort o' thing, ven mothers-in-law is young and
good-looking, is it, Sir?'

'It's all vanity,' said Mr. Stiggins.

'Ah, so it is,' said Mrs. Weller, setting her cap to rights.

Sam thought it was, too, but he held his peace.

The deputy-shepherd seemed by no means best pleased with Sam's arrival;
and when the first effervescence of the compliment had subsided, even
Mrs. Weller looked as if she could have spared him without the smallest
inconvenience. However, there he was; and as he couldn't be decently
turned out, they all three sat down to tea.

'And how's father?' said Sam.

At this inquiry, Mrs. Weller raised her hands, and turned up her eyes,
as if the subject were too painful to be alluded to.

Mr. Stiggins groaned.

'What's the matter with that 'ere gen'l'm'n?' inquired Sam.

'He's shocked at the way your father goes on in,' replied Mrs. Weller.

'Oh, he is, is he?' said Sam.

'And with too good reason,' added Mrs. Weller gravely.

Mr. Stiggins took up a fresh piece of toast, and groaned heavily.

'He is a dreadful reprobate,' said Mrs. Weller.

'A man of wrath!' exclaimed Mr. Stiggins. He took a large semi-circular
bite out of the toast, and groaned again.

Sam felt very strongly disposed to give the reverend Mr. Stiggins
something to groan for, but he repressed his inclination, and merely
asked, 'What's the old 'un up to now?'

'Up to, indeed!' said Mrs. Weller, 'Oh, he has a hard heart. Night after
night does this excellent man--don't frown, Mr. Stiggins; I WILL say you
ARE an excellent man--come and sit here, for hours together, and it has
not the least effect upon him.' 'Well, that is odd,' said Sam; 'it 'ud
have a wery considerable effect upon me, if I wos in his place; I know
that.'

'The fact is, my young friend,' said Mr. Stiggins solemnly, 'he has an
obderrate bosom. Oh, my young friend, who else could have resisted
the pleading of sixteen of our fairest sisters, and withstood their
exhortations to subscribe to our noble society for providing the
infant negroes in the West Indies with flannel waistcoats and moral
pocket-handkerchiefs?'

'What's a moral pocket-ankercher?' said Sam; 'I never see one o' them
articles o' furniter.'

'Those which combine amusement With instruction, my young friend,'
replied Mr. Stiggins, 'blending select tales with wood-cuts.'

'Oh, I know,' said Sam; 'them as hangs up in the linen-drapers' shops,
with beggars' petitions and all that 'ere upon 'em?'

Mr. Stiggins began a third round of toast, and nodded assent. 'And he
wouldn't be persuaded by the ladies, wouldn't he?' said Sam.

'Sat and smoked his pipe, and said the infant negroes were--what did he
say the infant negroes were?' said Mrs. Weller.

'Little humbugs,' replied Mr. Stiggins, deeply affected.

'Said the infant negroes were little humbugs,' repeated Mrs. Weller. And
they both groaned at the atrocious conduct of the elder Mr. Weller.

A great many more iniquities of a similar nature might have been
disclosed, only the toast being all eaten, the tea having got very
weak, and Sam holding out no indications of meaning to go, Mr. Stiggins
suddenly recollected that he had a most pressing appointment with the
shepherd, and took himself off accordingly.

The tea-things had been scarcely put away, and the hearth swept up, when
the London coach deposited Mr. Weller, senior, at the door; his legs
deposited him in the bar; and his eyes showed him his son.

'What, Sammy!' exclaimed the father.

'What, old Nobs!' ejaculated the son. And they shook hands heartily.

'Wery glad to see you, Sammy,' said the elder Mr. Weller, 'though how
you've managed to get over your mother-in-law, is a mystery to me. I
only vish you'd write me out the receipt, that's all.'

'Hush!' said Sam, 'she's at home, old feller.' 'She ain't vithin
hearin',' replied Mr. Weller; 'she always goes and blows up, downstairs,
for a couple of hours arter tea; so we'll just give ourselves a damp,
Sammy.'

Saying this, Mr. Weller mixed two glasses of spirits-and-water, and
produced a couple of pipes. The father and son sitting down opposite
each other; Sam on one side of the fire, in the high-backed chair, and
Mr. Weller, senior, on the other, in an easy ditto, they proceeded to
enjoy themselves with all due gravity.

'Anybody been here, Sammy?' asked Mr. Weller, senior, dryly, after a
long silence.

Sam nodded an expressive assent.

'Red-nosed chap?' inquired Mr. Weller.

Sam nodded again.

'Amiable man that 'ere, Sammy,' said Mr. Weller, smoking violently.

'Seems so,' observed Sam.

'Good hand at accounts,' said Mr. Weller. 'Is he?' said Sam.

'Borrows eighteenpence on Monday, and comes on Tuesday for a shillin' to
make it up half-a-crown; calls again on Vensday for another half-crown
to make it five shillin's; and goes on, doubling, till he gets it up to
a five pund note in no time, like them sums in the 'rithmetic book 'bout
the nails in the horse's shoes, Sammy.'

Sam intimated by a nod that he recollected the problem alluded to by his
parent.

'So you vouldn't subscribe to the flannel veskits?' said Sam, after
another interval of smoking.

'Cert'nly not,' replied Mr. Weller; 'what's the good o' flannel veskits
to the young niggers abroad? But I'll tell you what it is, Sammy,' said
Mr. Weller, lowering his voice, and bending across the fireplace; 'I'd
come down wery handsome towards strait veskits for some people at home.'

As Mr. Weller said this, he slowly recovered his former position, and
winked at his first-born, in a profound manner.

'It cert'nly seems a queer start to send out pocket-'ankerchers to
people as don't know the use on 'em,' observed Sam.

'They're alvays a-doin' some gammon of that sort, Sammy,' replied his
father. 'T'other Sunday I wos walkin' up the road, wen who should I see,
a-standin' at a chapel door, with a blue soup-plate in her hand, but
your mother-in-law! I werily believe there was change for a couple o'
suv'rins in it, then, Sammy, all in ha'pence; and as the people come
out, they rattled the pennies in it, till you'd ha' thought that no
mortal plate as ever was baked, could ha' stood the wear and tear. What
d'ye think it was all for?'

'For another tea-drinkin', perhaps,' said Sam.

'Not a bit on it,' replied the father; 'for the shepherd's water-rate,
Sammy.'

'The shepherd's water-rate!' said Sam.

'Ay,' replied Mr. Weller, 'there was three quarters owin', and the
shepherd hadn't paid a farden, not he--perhaps it might be on account
that the water warn't o' much use to him, for it's wery little o' that
tap he drinks, Sammy, wery; he knows a trick worth a good half-dozen
of that, he does. Hows'ever, it warn't paid, and so they cuts the water
off. Down goes the shepherd to chapel, gives out as he's a persecuted
saint, and says he hopes the heart of the turncock as cut the water off,
'll be softened, and turned in the right vay, but he rayther thinks
he's booked for somethin' uncomfortable. Upon this, the women calls
a meetin', sings a hymn, wotes your mother-in-law into the chair,
wolunteers a collection next Sunday, and hands it all over to the
shepherd. And if he ain't got enough out on 'em, Sammy, to make him free
of the water company for life,' said Mr. Weller, in conclusion, 'I'm one
Dutchman, and you're another, and that's all about it.'

Mr. Weller smoked for some minutes in silence, and then resumed--

'The worst o' these here shepherds is, my boy, that they reg'larly turns
the heads of all the young ladies, about here. Lord bless their little
hearts, they thinks it's all right, and don't know no better; but
they're the wictims o' gammon, Samivel, they're the wictims o' gammon.'

'I s'pose they are,' said Sam.

'Nothin' else,' said Mr. Weller, shaking his head gravely; 'and wot
aggrawates me, Samivel, is to see 'em a-wastin' all their time and
labour in making clothes for copper-coloured people as don't want 'em,
and taking no notice of flesh-coloured Christians as do. If I'd my vay,
Samivel, I'd just stick some o' these here lazy shepherds behind a heavy
wheelbarrow, and run 'em up and down a fourteen-inch-wide plank all day.
That 'ud shake the nonsense out of 'em, if anythin' vould.'

Mr. Weller, having delivered this gentle recipe with strong emphasis,
eked out by a variety of nods and contortions of the eye, emptied his
glass at a draught, and knocked the ashes out of his pipe, with native
dignity.

He was engaged in this operation, when a shrill voice was heard in the
passage.

'Here's your dear relation, Sammy,' said Mr. Weller; and Mrs. W. hurried
into the room.

'Oh, you've come back, have you!' said Mrs. Weller.

'Yes, my dear,' replied Mr. Weller, filling a fresh pipe.

'Has Mr. Stiggins been back?' said Mrs. Weller.

'No, my dear, he hasn't,' replied Mr. Weller, lighting the pipe by the
ingenious process of holding to the bowl thereof, between the tongs, a
red-hot coal from the adjacent fire; and what's more, my dear, I shall
manage to surwive it, if he don't come back at all.'

'Ugh, you wretch!' said Mrs. Weller.

'Thank'ee, my love,' said Mr. Weller. 'Come, come, father,' said Sam,
'none o' these little lovin's afore strangers. Here's the reverend
gen'l'm'n a-comin' in now.' At this announcement, Mrs. Weller hastily
wiped off the tears which she had just begun to force on; and Mr. W.
drew his chair sullenly into the chimney-corner.

Mr. Stiggins was easily prevailed on to take another glass of the hot
pine-apple rum-and-water, and a second, and a third, and then to refresh
himself with a slight supper, previous to beginning again. He sat on the
same side as Mr. Weller, senior; and every time he could contrive to do
so, unseen by his wife, that gentleman indicated to his son the hidden
emotions of his bosom, by shaking his fist over the deputy-shepherd's
head; a process which afforded his son the most unmingled delight and
satisfaction, the more especially as Mr. Stiggins went on, quietly
drinking the hot pine-apple rum-and-water, wholly unconscious of what
was going forward.

The major part of the conversation was confined to Mrs. Weller and the
reverend Mr. Stiggins; and the topics principally descanted on, were
the virtues of the shepherd, the worthiness of his flock, and the high
crimes and misdemeanours of everybody beside--dissertations which the
elder Mr. Weller occasionally interrupted by half-suppressed references
to a gentleman of the name of Walker, and other running commentaries of
the same kind.

At length Mr. Stiggins, with several most indubitable symptoms of having
quite as much pine-apple rum-and-water about him as he could comfortably
accommodate, took his hat, and his leave; and Sam was, immediately
afterwards, shown to bed by his father. The respectable old gentleman
wrung his hand fervently, and seemed disposed to address some
observation to his son; but on Mrs. Weller advancing towards him, he
appeared to relinquish that intention, and abruptly bade him good-night.

Sam was up betimes next day, and having partaken of a hasty breakfast,
prepared to return to London. He had scarcely set foot without the
house, when his father stood before him.

'Goin', Sammy?' inquired Mr. Weller.

'Off at once,' replied Sam.

'I vish you could muffle that 'ere Stiggins, and take him vith you,'
said Mr. Weller.

'I am ashamed on you!' said Sam reproachfully; 'what do you let him show
his red nose in the Markis o' Granby at all, for?'

Mr. Weller the elder fixed on his son an earnest look, and replied,
''Cause I'm a married man, Samivel,'cause I'm a married man. Ven you're
a married man, Samivel, you'll understand a good many things as you
don't understand now; but vether it's worth while goin' through so much,
to learn so little, as the charity-boy said ven he got to the end of the
alphabet, is a matter o' taste. I rayther think it isn't.' 'Well,' said
Sam, 'good-bye.'

'Tar, tar, Sammy,' replied his father.

'I've only got to say this here,' said Sam, stopping short, 'that if I
was the properiator o' the Markis o' Granby, and that 'ere Stiggins came
and made toast in my bar, I'd--'

'What?' interposed Mr. Weller, with great anxiety. 'What?'

'Pison his rum-and-water,' said Sam.

'No!' said Mr. Weller, shaking his son eagerly by the hand, 'would you
raly, Sammy-would you, though?'

'I would,' said Sam. 'I wouldn't be too hard upon him at first. I'd
drop him in the water-butt, and put the lid on; and if I found he was
insensible to kindness, I'd try the other persvasion.'

The elder Mr. Weller bestowed a look of deep, unspeakable admiration
on his son, and, having once more grasped his hand, walked slowly away,
revolving in his mind the numerous reflections to which his advice had
given rise.

Sam looked after him, until he turned a corner of the road; and then set
forward on his walk to London. He meditated at first, on the probable
consequences of his own advice, and the likelihood of his father's
adopting it. He dismissed the subject from his mind, however, with
the consolatory reflection that time alone would show; and this is the
reflection we would impress upon the reader.




CHAPTER XXVIII. A GOOD-HUMOURED CHRISTMAS CHAPTER, CONTAINING AN ACCOUNT
OF A WEDDING, AND SOME OTHER SPORTS BESIDE: WHICH ALTHOUGH IN THEIR WAY,
EVEN AS GOOD CUSTOMS AS MARRIAGE ITSELF, ARE NOT QUITE SO RELIGIOUSLY
KEPT UP, IN THESE DEGENERATE TIMES


As brisk as bees, if not altogether as light as fairies, did the
four Pickwickians assemble on the morning of the twenty-second day of
December, in the year of grace in which these, their faithfully-recorded
adventures, were undertaken and accomplished. Christmas was close
at hand, in all his bluff and hearty honesty; it was the season
of hospitality, merriment, and open-heartedness; the old year was
preparing, like an ancient philosopher, to call his friends around him,
and amidst the sound of feasting and revelry to pass gently and calmly
away. Gay and merry was the time; and right gay and merry were at least
four of the numerous hearts that were gladdened by its coming.

And numerous indeed are the hearts to which Christmas brings a brief
season of happiness and enjoyment. How many families, whose members have
been dispersed and scattered far and wide, in the restless struggles
of life, are then reunited, and meet once again in that happy state of
companionship and mutual goodwill, which is a source of such pure and
unalloyed delight; and one so incompatible with the cares and sorrows of
the world, that the religious belief of the most civilised nations, and
the rude traditions of the roughest savages, alike number it among the
first joys of a future condition of existence, provided for the blessed
and happy! How many old recollections, and how many dormant sympathies,
does Christmas time awaken!

We write these words now, many miles distant from the spot at which,
year after year, we met on that day, a merry and joyous circle. Many of
the hearts that throbbed so gaily then, have ceased to beat; many of
the looks that shone so brightly then, have ceased to glow; the hands we
grasped, have grown cold; the eyes we sought, have hid their lustre in
the grave; and yet the old house, the room, the merry voices and smiling
faces, the jest, the laugh, the most minute and trivial circumstances
connected with those happy meetings, crowd upon our mind at each
recurrence of the season, as if the last assemblage had been but
yesterday! Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions
of our childish days; that can recall to the old man the pleasures of
his youth; that can transport the sailor and the traveller, thousands of
miles away, back to his own fireside and his quiet home!

But we are so taken up and occupied with the good qualities of this
saint Christmas, that we are keeping Mr. Pickwick and his friends
waiting in the cold on the outside of the Muggleton coach, which
they have just attained, well wrapped up in great-coats, shawls, and
comforters. The portmanteaus and carpet-bags have been stowed away,
and Mr. Weller and the guard are endeavouring to insinuate into the
fore-boot a huge cod-fish several sizes too large for it--which is
snugly packed up, in a long brown basket, with a layer of straw over the
top, and which has been left to the last, in order that he may repose
in safety on the half-dozen barrels of real native oysters, all the
property of Mr. Pickwick, which have been arranged in regular order at
the bottom of the receptacle. The interest displayed in Mr. Pickwick's
countenance is most intense, as Mr. Weller and the guard try to squeeze
the cod-fish into the boot, first head first, and then tail first, and
then top upward, and then bottom upward, and then side-ways, and then
long-ways, all of which artifices the implacable cod-fish sturdily
resists, until the guard accidentally hits him in the very middle of the
basket, whereupon he suddenly disappears into the boot, and with him,
the head and shoulders of the guard himself, who, not calculating
upon so sudden a cessation of the passive resistance of the cod-fish,
experiences a very unexpected shock, to the unsmotherable delight of all
the porters and bystanders. Upon this, Mr. Pickwick smiles with great
good-humour, and drawing a shilling from his waistcoat pocket, begs the
guard, as he picks himself out of the boot, to drink his health in
a glass of hot brandy-and-water; at which the guard smiles too, and
Messrs. Snodgrass, Winkle, and Tupman, all smile in company. The guard
and Mr. Weller disappear for five minutes, most probably to get the hot
brandy-and-water, for they smell very strongly of it, when they
return, the coachman mounts to the box, Mr. Weller jumps up behind, the
Pickwickians pull their coats round their legs and their shawls over
their noses, the helpers pull the horse-cloths off, the coachman shouts
out a cheery 'All right,' and away they go.

They have rumbled through the streets, and jolted over the stones, and
at length reach the wide and open country. The wheels skim over the hard
and frosty ground; and the horses, bursting into a canter at a
smart crack of the whip, step along the road as if the load behind
them--coach, passengers, cod-fish, oyster-barrels, and all--were but a
feather at their heels. They have descended a gentle slope, and enter
upon a level, as compact and dry as a solid block of marble, two miles
long. Another crack of the whip, and on they speed, at a smart gallop,
the horses tossing their heads and rattling the harness, as if in
exhilaration at the rapidity of the motion; while the coachman, holding
whip and reins in one hand, takes off his hat with the other, and
resting it on his knees, pulls out his handkerchief, and wipes his
forehead, partly because he has a habit of doing it, and partly because
it's as well to show the passengers how cool he is, and what an easy
thing it is to drive four-in-hand, when you have had as much practice as
he has. Having done this very leisurely (otherwise the effect would be
materially impaired), he replaces his handkerchief, pulls on his hat,
adjusts his gloves, squares his elbows, cracks the whip again, and on
they speed, more merrily than before. A few small houses, scattered on
either side of the road, betoken the entrance to some town or village.
The lively notes of the guard's key-bugle vibrate in the clear cold air,
and wake up the old gentleman inside, who, carefully letting down the
window-sash half-way, and standing sentry over the air, takes a short
peep out, and then carefully pulling it up again, informs the other
inside that they're going to change directly; on which the other inside
wakes himself up, and determines to postpone his next nap until after
the stoppage. Again the bugle sounds lustily forth, and rouses the
cottager's wife and children, who peep out at the house door, and watch
the coach till it turns the corner, when they once more crouch round
the blazing fire, and throw on another log of wood against father
comes home; while father himself, a full mile off, has just exchanged
a friendly nod with the coachman, and turned round to take a good long
stare at the vehicle as it whirls away.

And now the bugle plays a lively air as the coach rattles through the
ill-paved streets of a country town; and the coachman, undoing the
buckle which keeps his ribands together, prepares to throw them off the
moment he stops. Mr. Pickwick emerges from his coat collar, and looks
about him with great curiosity; perceiving which, the coachman informs
Mr. Pickwick of the name of the town, and tells him it was market-day
yesterday, both of which pieces of information Mr. Pickwick retails to
his fellow-passengers; whereupon they emerge from their coat collars
too, and look about them also. Mr. Winkle, who sits at the extreme
edge, with one leg dangling in the air, is nearly precipitated into the
street, as the coach twists round the sharp corner by the cheesemonger's
shop, and turns into the market-place; and before Mr. Snodgrass, who
sits next to him, has recovered from his alarm, they pull up at the inn
yard where the fresh horses, with cloths on, are already waiting. The
coachman throws down the reins and gets down himself, and the other
outside passengers drop down also; except those who have no great
confidence in their ability to get up again; and they remain where they
are, and stamp their feet against the coach to warm them--looking, with
longing eyes and red noses, at the bright fire in the inn bar, and the
sprigs of holly with red berries which ornament the window.

But the guard has delivered at the corn-dealer's shop, the brown paper
packet he took out of the little pouch which hangs over his shoulder
by a leathern strap; and has seen the horses carefully put to; and has
thrown on the pavement the saddle which was brought from London on the
coach roof; and has assisted in the conference between the coachman and
the hostler about the gray mare that hurt her off fore-leg last Tuesday;
and he and Mr. Weller are all right behind, and the coachman is all
right in front, and the old gentleman inside, who has kept the window
down full two inches all this time, has pulled it up again, and the
cloths are off, and they are all ready for starting, except the 'two
stout gentlemen,' whom the coachman inquires after with some impatience.
Hereupon the coachman, and the guard, and Sam Weller, and Mr. Winkle,
and Mr. Snodgrass, and all the hostlers, and every one of the idlers,
who are more in number than all the others put together, shout for the
missing gentlemen as loud as they can bawl. A distant response is heard
from the yard, and Mr. Pickwick and Mr. Tupman come running down it,
quite out of breath, for they have been having a glass of ale a-piece,
and Mr. Pickwick's fingers are so cold that he has been full five
minutes before he could find the sixpence to pay for it. The coachman
shouts an admonitory 'Now then, gen'l'm'n,' the guard re-echoes it; the
old gentleman inside thinks it a very extraordinary thing that people
WILL get down when they know there isn't time for it; Mr. Pickwick
struggles up on one side, Mr. Tupman on the other; Mr. Winkle cries
'All right'; and off they start. Shawls are pulled up, coat collars are
readjusted, the pavement ceases, the houses disappear; and they are once
again dashing along the open road, with the fresh clear air blowing in
their faces, and gladdening their very hearts within them.

Such was the progress of Mr. Pickwick and his friends by the Muggleton
Telegraph, on their way to Dingley Dell; and at three o'clock that
afternoon they all stood high and dry, safe and sound, hale and hearty,
upon the steps of the Blue Lion, having taken on the road quite enough
of ale and brandy, to enable them to bid defiance to the frost that
was binding up the earth in its iron fetters, and weaving its beautiful
network upon the trees and hedges. Mr. Pickwick was busily engaged in
counting the barrels of oysters and superintending the disinterment of
the cod-fish, when he felt himself gently pulled by the skirts of the
coat. Looking round, he discovered that the individual who resorted
to this mode of catching his attention was no other than Mr. Wardle's
favourite page, better known to the readers of this unvarnished history,
by the distinguishing appellation of the fat boy.

'Aha!' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Aha!' said the fat boy.

As he said it, he glanced from the cod-fish to the oyster-barrels, and
chuckled joyously. He was fatter than ever.

'Well, you look rosy enough, my young friend,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'I've been asleep, right in front of the taproom fire,' replied the fat
boy, who had heated himself to the colour of a new chimney-pot, in the
course of an hour's nap. 'Master sent me over with the shay-cart, to
carry your luggage up to the house. He'd ha' sent some saddle-horses,
but he thought you'd rather walk, being a cold day.'

'Yes, yes,' said Mr. Pickwick hastily, for he remembered how they had
travelled over nearly the same ground on a previous occasion. 'Yes, we
would rather walk. Here, Sam!'

'Sir,' said Mr. Weller.

'Help Mr. Wardle's servant to put the packages into the cart, and then
ride on with him. We will walk forward at once.'

Having given this direction, and settled with the coachman, Mr. Pickwick
and his three friends struck into the footpath across the fields, and
walked briskly away, leaving Mr. Weller and the fat boy confronted
together for the first time. Sam looked at the fat boy with great
astonishment, but without saying a word; and began to stow the luggage
rapidly away in the cart, while the fat boy stood quietly by, and seemed
to think it a very interesting sort of thing to see Mr. Weller working
by himself.

'There,' said Sam, throwing in the last carpet-bag, 'there they are!'

'Yes,' said the fat boy, in a very satisfied tone, 'there they are.'

'Vell, young twenty stun,' said Sam, 'you're a nice specimen of a prize
boy, you are!' 'Thank'ee,' said the fat boy.

'You ain't got nothin' on your mind as makes you fret yourself, have
you?' inquired Sam.

'Not as I knows on,' replied the fat boy.

'I should rayther ha' thought, to look at you, that you was a-labourin'
under an unrequited attachment to some young 'ooman,' said Sam.

The fat boy shook his head.

'Vell,' said Sam, 'I am glad to hear it. Do you ever drink anythin'?'

'I likes eating better,' replied the boy.

'Ah,' said Sam, 'I should ha' s'posed that; but what I mean is, should
you like a drop of anythin' as'd warm you? but I s'pose you never was
cold, with all them elastic fixtures, was you?'

'Sometimes,' replied the boy; 'and I likes a drop of something, when
it's good.'

'Oh, you do, do you?' said Sam, 'come this way, then!'

The Blue Lion tap was soon gained, and the fat boy swallowed a glass of
liquor without so much as winking--a feat which considerably advanced
him in Mr. Weller's good opinion. Mr. Weller having transacted a similar
piece of business on his own account, they got into the cart.

'Can you drive?' said the fat boy. 'I should rayther think so,' replied
Sam.

'There, then,' said the fat boy, putting the reins in his hand, and
pointing up a lane, 'it's as straight as you can go; you can't miss it.'

With these words, the fat boy laid himself affectionately down by the
side of the cod-fish, and, placing an oyster-barrel under his head for a
pillow, fell asleep instantaneously.

'Well,' said Sam, 'of all the cool boys ever I set my eyes on, this here
young gen'l'm'n is the coolest. Come, wake up, young dropsy!'

But as young dropsy evinced no symptoms of returning animation, Sam
Weller sat himself down in front of the cart, and starting the old horse
with a jerk of the rein, jogged steadily on, towards the Manor Farm.

Meanwhile, Mr. Pickwick and his friends having walked their blood into
active circulation, proceeded cheerfully on. The paths were hard; the
grass was crisp and frosty; the air had a fine, dry, bracing coldness;
and the rapid approach of the gray twilight (slate-coloured is a
better term in frosty weather) made them look forward with pleasant
anticipation to the comforts which awaited them at their hospitable
entertainer's. It was the sort of afternoon that might induce a couple
of elderly gentlemen, in a lonely field, to take off their greatcoats
and play at leap-frog in pure lightness of heart and gaiety; and we
firmly believe that had Mr. Tupman at that moment proffered 'a back,'
Mr. Pickwick would have accepted his offer with the utmost avidity.

However, Mr. Tupman did not volunteer any such accommodation, and the
friends walked on, conversing merrily. As they turned into a lane they
had to cross, the sound of many voices burst upon their ears; and before
they had even had time to form a guess to whom they belonged, they
walked into the very centre of the party who were expecting their
arrival--a fact which was first notified to the Pickwickians, by the
loud 'Hurrah,' which burst from old Wardle's lips, when they appeared in
sight.

First, there was Wardle himself, looking, if that were possible, more
jolly than ever; then there were Bella and her faithful Trundle; and,
lastly, there were Emily and some eight or ten young ladies, who had all
come down to the wedding, which was to take place next day, and who were
in as happy and important a state as young ladies usually are, on such
momentous occasions; and they were, one and all, startling the fields
and lanes, far and wide, with their frolic and laughter.

The ceremony of introduction, under such circumstances, was very soon
performed, or we should rather say that the introduction was soon over,
without any ceremony at all. In two minutes thereafter, Mr. Pickwick was
joking with the young ladies who wouldn't come over the stile while he
looked--or who, having pretty feet and unexceptionable ankles, preferred
standing on the top rail for five minutes or so, declaring that they
were too frightened to move--with as much ease and absence of reserve
or constraint, as if he had known them for life. It is worthy of remark,
too, that Mr. Snodgrass offered Emily far more assistance than the
absolute terrors of the stile (although it was full three feet high, and
had only a couple of stepping-stones) would seem to require; while one
black-eyed young lady in a very nice little pair of boots with fur round
the top, was observed to scream very loudly, when Mr. Winkle offered to
help her over.

All this was very snug and pleasant. And when the difficulties of the
stile were at last surmounted, and they once more entered on the open
field, old Wardle informed Mr. Pickwick how they had all been down in
a body to inspect the furniture and fittings-up of the house, which
the young couple were to tenant, after the Christmas holidays; at which
communication Bella and Trundle both coloured up, as red as the fat boy
after the taproom fire; and the young lady with the black eyes and
the fur round the boots, whispered something in Emily's ear, and then
glanced archly at Mr. Snodgrass; to which Emily responded that she was
a foolish girl, but turned very red, notwithstanding; and Mr. Snodgrass,
who was as modest as all great geniuses usually are, felt the crimson
rising to the crown of his head, and devoutly wished, in the inmost
recesses of his own heart, that the young lady aforesaid, with her black
eyes, and her archness, and her boots with the fur round the top, were
all comfortably deposited in the adjacent county.

But if they were social and happy outside the house, what was the warmth
and cordiality of their reception when they reached the farm! The
very servants grinned with pleasure at sight of Mr. Pickwick; and
Emma bestowed a half-demure, half-impudent, and all-pretty look of
recognition, on Mr. Tupman, which was enough to make the statue of
Bonaparte in the passage, unfold his arms, and clasp her within them.

The old lady was seated with customary state in the front parlour, but
she was rather cross, and, by consequence, most particularly deaf. She
never went out herself, and like a great many other old ladies of the
same stamp, she was apt to consider it an act of domestic treason, if
anybody else took the liberty of doing what she couldn't. So, bless
her old soul, she sat as upright as she could, in her great chair, and
looked as fierce as might be--and that was benevolent after all.

'Mother,' said Wardle, 'Mr. Pickwick. You recollect him?'

'Never mind,' replied the old lady, with great dignity. 'Don't trouble
Mr. Pickwick about an old creetur like me. Nobody cares about me now,
and it's very nat'ral they shouldn't.' Here the old lady tossed her
head, and smoothed down her lavender-coloured silk dress with trembling
hands. 'Come, come, ma'am,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'I can't let you cut an
old friend in this way. I have come down expressly to have a long talk,
and another rubber with you; and we'll show these boys and girls how to
dance a minuet, before they're eight-and-forty hours older.'

The old lady was rapidly giving way, but she did not like to do it all
at once; so she only said, 'Ah! I can't hear him!'

'Nonsense, mother,' said Wardle. 'Come, come, don't be cross, there's
a good soul. Recollect Bella; come, you must keep her spirits up, poor
girl.'

The good old lady heard this, for her lip quivered as her son said it.
But age has its little infirmities of temper, and she was not quite
brought round yet. So, she smoothed down the lavender-coloured dress
again, and turning to Mr. Pickwick said, 'Ah, Mr. Pickwick, young people
was very different, when I was a girl.'

'No doubt of that, ma'am,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'and that's the reason why
I would make much of the few that have any traces of the old stock'--and
saying this, Mr. Pickwick gently pulled Bella towards him, and bestowing
a kiss upon her forehead, bade her sit down on the little stool at her
grandmother's feet. Whether the expression of her countenance, as it was
raised towards the old lady's face, called up a thought of old times,
or whether the old lady was touched by Mr. Pickwick's affectionate
good-nature, or whatever was the cause, she was fairly melted; so she
threw herself on her granddaughter's neck, and all the little ill-humour
evaporated in a gush of silent tears.

A happy party they were, that night. Sedate and solemn were the score
of rubbers in which Mr. Pickwick and the old lady played together;
uproarious was the mirth of the round table. Long after the ladies had
retired, did the hot elder wine, well qualified with brandy and spice,
go round, and round, and round again; and sound was the sleep and
pleasant were the dreams that followed. It is a remarkable fact that
those of Mr. Snodgrass bore constant reference to Emily Wardle; and that
the principal figure in Mr. Winkle's visions was a young lady with black
eyes, and arch smile, and a pair of remarkably nice boots with fur round
the tops.

Mr. Pickwick was awakened early in the morning, by a hum of voices and
a pattering of feet, sufficient to rouse even the fat boy from his heavy
slumbers. He sat up in bed and listened. The female servants and
female visitors were running constantly to and fro; and there were such
multitudinous demands for hot water, such repeated outcries for needles
and thread, and so many half-suppressed entreaties of 'Oh, do come and
tie me, there's a dear!' that Mr. Pickwick in his innocence began to
imagine that something dreadful must have occurred--when he grew more
awake, and remembered the wedding. The occasion being an important
one, he dressed himself with peculiar care, and descended to the
breakfast-room.

There were all the female servants in a bran new uniform of pink muslin
gowns with white bows in their caps, running about the house in a state
of excitement and agitation which it would be impossible to describe.
The old lady was dressed out in a brocaded gown, which had not seen the
light for twenty years, saving and excepting such truant rays as had
stolen through the chinks in the box in which it had been laid by,
during the whole time. Mr. Trundle was in high feather and spirits, but
a little nervous withal. The hearty old landlord was trying to look very
cheerful and unconcerned, but failing signally in the attempt. All the
girls were in tears and white muslin, except a select two or three, who
were being honoured with a private view of the bride and bridesmaids,
upstairs. All the Pickwickians were in most blooming array; and there
was a terrific roaring on the grass in front of the house, occasioned by
all the men, boys, and hobbledehoys attached to the farm, each of whom
had got a white bow in his button-hole, and all of whom were cheering
with might and main; being incited thereto, and stimulated therein by
the precept and example of Mr. Samuel Weller, who had managed to become
mighty popular already, and was as much at home as if he had been born
on the land.

A wedding is a licensed subject to joke upon, but there really is no
great joke in the matter after all;--we speak merely of the ceremony,
and beg it to be distinctly understood that we indulge in no hidden
sarcasm upon a married life. Mixed up with the pleasure and joy of the
occasion, are the many regrets at quitting home, the tears of parting
between parent and child, the consciousness of leaving the dearest and
kindest friends of the happiest portion of human life, to encounter its
cares and troubles with others still untried and little known--natural
feelings which we would not render this chapter mournful by describing,
and which we should be still more unwilling to be supposed to ridicule.

Let us briefly say, then, that the ceremony was performed by the old
clergyman, in the parish church of Dingley Dell, and that Mr. Pickwick's
name is attached to the register, still preserved in the vestry thereof;
that the young lady with the black eyes signed her name in a very
unsteady and tremulous manner; that Emily's signature, as the other
bridesmaid, is nearly illegible; that it all went off in very admirable
style; that the young ladies generally thought it far less shocking than
they had expected; and that although the owner of the black eyes and the
arch smile informed Mr. Wardle that she was sure she could never submit
to anything so dreadful, we have the very best reasons for thinking she
was mistaken. To all this, we may add, that Mr. Pickwick was the first
who saluted the bride, and that in so doing he threw over her neck a
rich gold watch and chain, which no mortal eyes but the jeweller's had
ever beheld before. Then, the old church bell rang as gaily as it could,
and they all returned to breakfast. 'Vere does the mince-pies go, young
opium-eater?' said Mr. Weller to the fat boy, as he assisted in laying
out such articles of consumption as had not been duly arranged on the
previous night.

The fat boy pointed to the destination of the pies.

'Wery good,' said Sam, 'stick a bit o' Christmas in 'em. T'other dish
opposite. There; now we look compact and comfortable, as the father said
ven he cut his little boy's head off, to cure him o' squintin'.'

As Mr. Weller made the comparison, he fell back a step or two, to
give full effect to it, and surveyed the preparations with the utmost
satisfaction.

'Wardle,' said Mr. Pickwick, almost as soon as they were all seated, 'a
glass of wine in honour of this happy occasion!'

'I shall be delighted, my boy,' said Wardle. 'Joe--damn that boy, he's
gone to sleep.' 'No, I ain't, sir,' replied the fat boy, starting up
from a remote corner, where, like the patron saint of fat boys--the
immortal Horner--he had been devouring a Christmas pie, though not with
the coolness and deliberation which characterised that young gentleman's
proceedings.

'Fill Mr. Pickwick's glass.'

'Yes, sir.'

The fat boy filled Mr. Pickwick's glass, and then retired behind his
master's chair, from whence he watched the play of the knives and forks,
and the progress of the choice morsels from the dishes to the mouths
of the company, with a kind of dark and gloomy joy that was most
impressive.

'God bless you, old fellow!' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Same to you, my boy,' replied Wardle; and they pledged each other,
heartily.

'Mrs. Wardle,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'we old folks must have a glass of
wine together, in honour of this joyful event.'

The old lady was in a state of great grandeur just then, for she
was sitting at the top of the table in the brocaded gown, with her
newly-married granddaughter on one side, and Mr. Pickwick on the other,
to do the carving. Mr. Pickwick had not spoken in a very loud tone, but
she understood him at once, and drank off a full glass of wine to his
long life and happiness; after which the worthy old soul launched
forth into a minute and particular account of her own wedding, with
a dissertation on the fashion of wearing high-heeled shoes, and some
particulars concerning the life and adventures of the beautiful Lady
Tollimglower, deceased; at all of which the old lady herself laughed
very heartily indeed, and so did the young ladies too, for they were
wondering among themselves what on earth grandma was talking about. When
they laughed, the old lady laughed ten times more heartily, and said
that these always had been considered capital stories, which caused them
all to laugh again, and put the old lady into the very best of humours.
Then the cake was cut, and passed through the ring; the young ladies
saved pieces to put under their pillows to dream of their future
husbands on; and a great deal of blushing and merriment was thereby
occasioned.

'Mr. Miller,' said Mr. Pickwick to his old acquaintance, the hard-headed
gentleman, 'a glass of wine?'

'With great satisfaction, Mr. Pickwick,' replied the hard-headed
gentleman solemnly.

'You'll take me in?' said the benevolent old clergyman.

'And me,' interposed his wife. 'And me, and me,' said a couple of poor
relations at the bottom of the table, who had eaten and drunk very
heartily, and laughed at everything.

Mr. Pickwick expressed his heartfelt delight at every additional
suggestion; and his eyes beamed with hilarity and cheerfulness. 'Ladies
and gentlemen,' said Mr. Pickwick, suddenly rising.

'Hear, hear! Hear, hear! Hear, hear!' cried Mr. Weller, in the
excitement of his feelings.

'Call in all the servants,' cried old Wardle, interposing to prevent
the public rebuke which Mr. Weller would otherwise most indubitably have
received from his master. 'Give them a glass of wine each to drink the
toast in. Now, Pickwick.'

Amidst the silence of the company, the whispering of the women-servants,
and the awkward embarrassment of the men, Mr. Pickwick proceeded--

'Ladies and gentlemen--no, I won't say ladies and gentlemen, I'll call
you my friends, my dear friends, if the ladies will allow me to take so
great a liberty--'

Here Mr. Pickwick was interrupted by immense applause from the ladies,
echoed by the gentlemen, during which the owner of the eyes was
distinctly heard to state that she could kiss that dear Mr. Pickwick.
Whereupon Mr. Winkle gallantly inquired if it couldn't be done by
deputy: to which the young lady with the black eyes replied 'Go away,'
and accompanied the request with a look which said as plainly as a look
could do, 'if you can.'

'My dear friends,' resumed Mr. Pickwick, 'I am going to propose the
health of the bride and bridegroom--God bless 'em (cheers and tears).
My young friend, Trundle, I believe to be a very excellent and manly
fellow; and his wife I know to be a very amiable and lovely girl, well
qualified to transfer to another sphere of action the happiness which
for twenty years she has diffused around her, in her father's house.
(Here, the fat boy burst forth into stentorian blubberings, and was
led forth by the coat collar, by Mr. Weller.) I wish,' added Mr.
Pickwick--'I wish I was young enough to be her sister's husband
(cheers), but, failing that, I am happy to be old enough to be her
father; for, being so, I shall not be suspected of any latent designs
when I say, that I admire, esteem, and love them both (cheers and sobs).
The bride's father, our good friend there, is a noble person, and I
am proud to know him (great uproar). He is a kind, excellent,
independent-spirited, fine-hearted, hospitable, liberal man
(enthusiastic shouts from the poor relations, at all the adjectives;
and especially at the two last). That his daughter may enjoy all
the happiness, even he can desire; and that he may derive from the
contemplation of her felicity all the gratification of heart and peace
of mind which he so well deserves, is, I am persuaded, our united wish.
So, let us drink their healths, and wish them prolonged life, and every
blessing!'

Mr. Pickwick concluded amidst a whirlwind of applause; and once more
were the lungs of the supernumeraries, under Mr. Weller's command,
brought into active and efficient operation. Mr. Wardle proposed Mr.
Pickwick; Mr. Pickwick proposed the old lady. Mr. Snodgrass proposed
Mr. Wardle; Mr. Wardle proposed Mr. Snodgrass. One of the poor relations
proposed Mr. Tupman, and the other poor relation proposed Mr. Winkle;
all was happiness and festivity, until the mysterious disappearance of
both the poor relations beneath the table, warned the party that it was
time to adjourn.

At dinner they met again, after a five-and-twenty mile walk, undertaken
by the males at Wardle's recommendation, to get rid of the effects of
the wine at breakfast. The poor relations had kept in bed all day, with
the view of attaining the same happy consummation, but, as they had been
unsuccessful, they stopped there. Mr. Weller kept the domestics in a
state of perpetual hilarity; and the fat boy divided his time into small
alternate allotments of eating and sleeping.

The dinner was as hearty an affair as the breakfast, and was quite as
noisy, without the tears. Then came the dessert and some more toasts.
Then came the tea and coffee; and then, the ball.

The best sitting-room at Manor Farm was a good, long, dark-panelled room
with a high chimney-piece, and a capacious chimney, up which you could
have driven one of the new patent cabs, wheels and all. At the upper end
of the room, seated in a shady bower of holly and evergreens were the
two best fiddlers, and the only harp, in all Muggleton. In all sorts
of recesses, and on all kinds of brackets, stood massive old silver
candlesticks with four branches each. The carpet was up, the candles
burned bright, the fire blazed and crackled on the hearth, and merry
voices and light-hearted laughter rang through the room. If any of the
old English yeomen had turned into fairies when they died, it was just
the place in which they would have held their revels.

If anything could have added to the interest of this agreeable scene, it
would have been the remarkable fact of Mr. Pickwick's appearing without
his gaiters, for the first time within the memory of his oldest friends.

'You mean to dance?' said Wardle.

'Of course I do,' replied Mr. Pickwick. 'Don't you see I am dressed
for the purpose?' Mr. Pickwick called attention to his speckled silk
stockings, and smartly tied pumps.

'YOU in silk stockings!' exclaimed Mr. Tupman jocosely.

'And why not, sir--why not?' said Mr. Pickwick, turning warmly upon
him. 'Oh, of course there is no reason why you shouldn't wear them,'
responded Mr. Tupman.

'I imagine not, sir--I imagine not,' said Mr. Pickwick, in a very
peremptory tone.

Mr. Tupman had contemplated a laugh, but he found it was a serious
matter; so he looked grave, and said they were a pretty pattern.

'I hope they are,' said Mr. Pickwick, fixing his eyes upon his friend.
'You see nothing extraordinary in the stockings, AS stockings, I trust,
Sir?'

'Certainly not. Oh, certainly not,' replied Mr. Tupman. He walked away;
and Mr. Pickwick's countenance resumed its customary benign expression.

'We are all ready, I believe,' said Mr. Pickwick, who was stationed with
the old lady at the top of the dance, and had already made four false
starts, in his excessive anxiety to commence.

'Then begin at once,' said Wardle. 'Now!'

Up struck the two fiddles and the one harp, and off went Mr. Pickwick
into hands across, when there was a general clapping of hands, and a cry
of 'Stop, stop!'

'What's the matter?' said Mr. Pickwick, who was only brought to, by
the fiddles and harp desisting, and could have been stopped by no other
earthly power, if the house had been on fire. 'Where's Arabella Allen?'
cried a dozen voices.

'And Winkle?'added Mr. Tupman.

'Here we are!' exclaimed that gentleman, emerging with his pretty
companion from the corner; as he did so, it would have been hard to tell
which was the redder in the face, he or the young lady with the black
eyes.

'What an extraordinary thing it is, Winkle,' said Mr. Pickwick, rather
pettishly, 'that you couldn't have taken your place before.'

'Not at all extraordinary,' said Mr. Winkle.

'Well,' said Mr. Pickwick, with a very expressive smile, as his eyes
rested on Arabella, 'well, I don't know that it WAS extraordinary,
either, after all.'

However, there was no time to think more about the matter, for the
fiddles and harp began in real earnest. Away went Mr. Pickwick--hands
across--down the middle to the very end of the room, and half-way up the
chimney, back again to the door--poussette everywhere--loud stamp on the
ground--ready for the next couple--off again--all the figure over once
more--another stamp to beat out the time--next couple, and the next, and
the next again--never was such going; at last, after they had reached
the bottom of the dance, and full fourteen couple after the old lady
had retired in an exhausted state, and the clergyman's wife had been
substituted in her stead, did that gentleman, when there was no demand
whatever on his exertions, keep perpetually dancing in his place, to
keep time to the music, smiling on his partner all the while with a
blandness of demeanour which baffles all description.

Long before Mr. Pickwick was weary of dancing, the newly-married couple
had retired from the scene. There was a glorious supper downstairs,
notwithstanding, and a good long sitting after it; and when Mr. Pickwick
awoke, late the next morning, he had a confused recollection of having,
severally and confidentially, invited somewhere about five-and-forty
people to dine with him at the George and Vulture, the very first time
they came to London; which Mr. Pickwick rightly considered a pretty
certain indication of his having taken something besides exercise, on
the previous night.

'And so your family has games in the kitchen to-night, my dear, has
they?' inquired Sam of Emma.

'Yes, Mr. Weller,' replied Emma; 'we always have on Christmas Eve.
Master wouldn't neglect to keep it up on any account.'

'Your master's a wery pretty notion of keeping anythin' up, my dear,'
said Mr. Weller; 'I never see such a sensible sort of man as he is, or
such a reg'lar gen'l'm'n.' 'Oh, that he is!' said the fat boy, joining
in the conversation; 'don't he breed nice pork!' The fat youth gave a
semi-cannibalic leer at Mr. Weller, as he thought of the roast legs and
gravy.

'Oh, you've woke up, at last, have you?' said Sam.

The fat boy nodded.

'I'll tell you what it is, young boa-constructer,' said Mr. Weller
impressively; 'if you don't sleep a little less, and exercise a little
more, wen you comes to be a man you'll lay yourself open to the same
sort of personal inconwenience as was inflicted on the old gen'l'm'n as
wore the pigtail.'

'What did they do to him?' inquired the fat boy, in a faltering voice.

'I'm a-going to tell you,' replied Mr. Weller; 'he was one o' the
largest patterns as was ever turned out--reg'lar fat man, as hadn't
caught a glimpse of his own shoes for five-and-forty year.'

'Lor!' exclaimed Emma.

'No, that he hadn't, my dear,' said Mr. Weller; 'and if you'd put an
exact model of his own legs on the dinin'-table afore him, he wouldn't
ha' known 'em. Well, he always walks to his office with a wery handsome
gold watch-chain hanging out, about a foot and a quarter, and a gold
watch in his fob pocket as was worth--I'm afraid to say how much, but as
much as a watch can be--a large, heavy, round manufacter, as stout for
a watch, as he was for a man, and with a big face in proportion. "You'd
better not carry that 'ere watch," says the old gen'l'm'n's friends,
"you'll be robbed on it," says they. "Shall I?" says he. "Yes, you
will," says they. "Well," says he, "I should like to see the thief as
could get this here watch out, for I'm blessed if I ever can, it's such
a tight fit," says he, "and wenever I vants to know what's o'clock, I'm
obliged to stare into the bakers' shops," he says. Well, then he laughs
as hearty as if he was a-goin' to pieces, and out he walks agin with
his powdered head and pigtail, and rolls down the Strand with the chain
hangin' out furder than ever, and the great round watch almost bustin'
through his gray kersey smalls. There warn't a pickpocket in all London
as didn't take a pull at that chain, but the chain 'ud never break, and
the watch 'ud never come out, so they soon got tired of dragging such a
heavy old gen'l'm'n along the pavement, and he'd go home and laugh till
the pigtail wibrated like the penderlum of a Dutch clock. At last, one
day the old gen'l'm'n was a-rollin' along, and he sees a pickpocket as
he know'd by sight, a-coming up, arm in arm with a little boy with a
wery large head. "Here's a game," says the old gen'l'm'n to himself,
"they're a-goin' to have another try, but it won't do!" So he begins
a-chucklin' wery hearty, wen, all of a sudden, the little boy leaves
hold of the pickpocket's arm, and rushes head foremost straight into the
old gen'l'm'n's stomach, and for a moment doubles him right up with
the pain. "Murder!" says the old gen'l'm'n. "All right, Sir," says the
pickpocket, a-wisperin' in his ear. And wen he come straight agin,
the watch and chain was gone, and what's worse than that, the old
gen'l'm'n's digestion was all wrong ever afterwards, to the wery last
day of his life; so just you look about you, young feller, and take care
you don't get too fat.'

As Mr. Weller concluded this moral tale, with which the fat boy appeared
much affected, they all three repaired to the large kitchen, in which
the family were by this time assembled, according to annual custom
on Christmas Eve, observed by old Wardle's forefathers from time
immemorial.

From the centre of the ceiling of this kitchen, old Wardle had just
suspended, with his own hands, a huge branch of mistletoe, and this same
branch of mistletoe instantaneously gave rise to a scene of general and
most delightful struggling and confusion; in the midst of which, Mr.
Pickwick, with a gallantry that would have done honour to a descendant
of Lady Tollimglower herself, took the old lady by the hand, led her
beneath the mystic branch, and saluted her in all courtesy and decorum.
The old lady submitted to this piece of practical politeness with all
the dignity which befitted so important and serious a solemnity, but
the younger ladies, not being so thoroughly imbued with a superstitious
veneration for the custom, or imagining that the value of a salute is
very much enhanced if it cost a little trouble to obtain it, screamed
and struggled, and ran into corners, and threatened and remonstrated,
and did everything but leave the room, until some of the less
adventurous gentlemen were on the point of desisting, when they all at
once found it useless to resist any longer, and submitted to be kissed
with a good grace. Mr. Winkle kissed the young lady with the black eyes,
and Mr. Snodgrass kissed Emily; and Mr. Weller, not being particular
about the form of being under the mistletoe, kissed Emma and the other
female servants, just as he caught them. As to the poor relations, they
kissed everybody, not even excepting the plainer portions of the young
lady visitors, who, in their excessive confusion, ran right under the
mistletoe, as soon as it was hung up, without knowing it! Wardle stood
with his back to the fire, surveying the whole scene, with the utmost
satisfaction; and the fat boy took the opportunity of appropriating to
his own use, and summarily devouring, a particularly fine mince-pie,
that had been carefully put by, for somebody else.

Now, the screaming had subsided, and faces were in a glow, and curls
in a tangle, and Mr. Pickwick, after kissing the old lady as before
mentioned, was standing under the mistletoe, looking with a very pleased
countenance on all that was passing around him, when the young lady with
the black eyes, after a little whispering with the other young ladies,
made a sudden dart forward, and, putting her arm round Mr. Pickwick's
neck, saluted him affectionately on the left cheek; and before Mr.
Pickwick distinctly knew what was the matter, he was surrounded by the
whole body, and kissed by every one of them.

It was a pleasant thing to see Mr. Pickwick in the centre of the group,
now pulled this way, and then that, and first kissed on the chin, and
then on the nose, and then on the spectacles, and to hear the peals
of laughter which were raised on every side; but it was a still more
pleasant thing to see Mr. Pickwick, blinded shortly afterwards with
a silk handkerchief, falling up against the wall, and scrambling into
corners, and going through all the mysteries of blind-man's buff, with
the utmost relish for the game, until at last he caught one of the poor
relations, and then had to evade the blind-man himself, which he did
with a nimbleness and agility that elicited the admiration and applause
of all beholders. The poor relations caught the people who they thought
would like it, and, when the game flagged, got caught themselves.
When they all tired of blind-man's buff, there was a great game at
snap-dragon, and when fingers enough were burned with that, and all the
raisins were gone, they sat down by the huge fire of blazing logs to a
substantial supper, and a mighty bowl of wassail, something smaller than
an ordinary wash-house copper, in which the hot apples were hissing
and bubbling with a rich look, and a jolly sound, that were perfectly
irresistible.

'This,' said Mr. Pickwick, looking round him, 'this is, indeed,
comfort.' 'Our invariable custom,' replied Mr. Wardle. 'Everybody sits
down with us on Christmas Eve, as you see them now--servants and all;
and here we wait, until the clock strikes twelve, to usher Christmas
in, and beguile the time with forfeits and old stories. Trundle, my boy,
rake up the fire.'

Up flew the bright sparks in myriads as the logs were stirred. The deep
red blaze sent forth a rich glow, that penetrated into the farthest
corner of the room, and cast its cheerful tint on every face.

'Come,' said Wardle, 'a song--a Christmas song! I'll give you one, in
default of a better.'

'Bravo!' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Fill up,' cried Wardle. 'It will be two hours, good, before you see the
bottom of the bowl through the deep rich colour of the wassail; fill up
all round, and now for the song.'

Thus saying, the merry old gentleman, in a good, round, sturdy voice,
commenced without more ado--



     A CHRISTMAS CAROL

     'I care not for Spring; on his fickle wing
     Let the blossoms and buds be borne;
     He woos them amain with his treacherous rain,
     And he scatters them ere the morn.
     An inconstant elf, he knows not himself,
     Nor his own changing mind an hour,
     He'll smile in your face, and, with wry grimace,
     He'll wither your youngest flower.

     'Let the Summer sun to his bright home run,
     He shall never be sought by me;
     When he's dimmed by a cloud I can laugh aloud
     And care not how sulky he be!
     For his darling child is the madness wild
     That sports in fierce fever's train;
     And when love is too strong, it don't last long,
     As many have found to their pain.

     'A mild harvest night, by the tranquil light
     Of the modest and gentle moon,
     Has a far sweeter sheen for me, I ween,
     Than the broad and unblushing noon.
     But every leaf awakens my grief,
     As it lieth beneath the tree;
     So let Autumn air be never so fair,
     It by no means agrees with me.

     'But my song I troll out, for CHRISTMAS Stout,
     The hearty, the true, and the bold;
     A bumper I drain, and with might and main
     Give three cheers for this Christmas old!
     We'll usher him in with a merry din
     That shall gladden his joyous heart,
     And we'll keep him up, while there's bite or sup,
     And in fellowship good, we'll part.
     'In his fine honest pride, he scorns to hide
     One jot of his hard-weather scars;
     They're no disgrace, for there's much the same trace
     On the cheeks of our bravest tars.
     Then again I sing till the roof doth ring
     And it echoes from wall to wall--
     To the stout old wight, fair welcome to-night,
     As the King of the Seasons all!'


This song was tumultuously applauded--for friends and dependents make
a capital audience--and the poor relations, especially, were in perfect
ecstasies of rapture. Again was the fire replenished, and again went the
wassail round.

'How it snows!' said one of the men, in a low tone.

'Snows, does it?' said Wardle.

'Rough, cold night, Sir,' replied the man; 'and there's a wind got up,
that drifts it across the fields, in a thick white cloud.'

'What does Jem say?' inquired the old lady. 'There ain't anything the
matter, is there?'

'No, no, mother,' replied Wardle; 'he says there's a snowdrift, and a
wind that's piercing cold. I should know that, by the way it rumbles in
the chimney.'

'Ah!' said the old lady, 'there was just such a wind, and just such
a fall of snow, a good many years back, I recollect--just five years
before your poor father died. It was a Christmas Eve, too; and I
remember that on that very night he told us the story about the goblins
that carried away old Gabriel Grub.'

'The story about what?' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Oh, nothing, nothing,' replied Wardle. 'About an old sexton, that the
good people down here suppose to have been carried away by goblins.'

'Suppose!' ejaculated the old lady. 'Is there anybody hardy enough to
disbelieve it? Suppose! Haven't you heard ever since you were a child,
that he WAS carried away by the goblins, and don't you know he was?'

'Very well, mother, he was, if you like,' said Wardle laughing. 'He WAS
carried away by goblins, Pickwick; and there's an end of the matter.'

'No, no,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'not an end of it, I assure you; for I must
hear how, and why, and all about it.'

Wardle smiled, as every head was bent forward to hear, and filling out
the wassail with no stinted hand, nodded a health to Mr. Pickwick, and
began as follows--

But bless our editorial heart, what a long chapter we have been betrayed
into! We had quite forgotten all such petty restrictions as chapters, we
solemnly declare. So here goes, to give the goblin a fair start in a new
one. A clear stage and no favour for the goblins, ladies and gentlemen,
if you please.



CHAPTER XXIX. THE STORY OF THE GOBLINS WHO STOLE A SEXTON


In an old abbey town, down in this part of the country, a long, long
while ago--so long, that the story must be a true one, because our
great-grandfathers implicitly believed it--there officiated as sexton
and grave-digger in the churchyard, one Gabriel Grub. It by no means
follows that because a man is a sexton, and constantly surrounded by
the emblems of mortality, therefore he should be a morose and melancholy
man; your undertakers are the merriest fellows in the world; and I once
had the honour of being on intimate terms with a mute, who in private
life, and off duty, was as comical and jocose a little fellow as ever
chirped out a devil-may-care song, without a hitch in his memory,
or drained off a good stiff glass without stopping for breath. But
notwithstanding these precedents to the contrary, Gabriel Grub was an
ill-conditioned, cross-grained, surly fellow--a morose and lonely man,
who consorted with nobody but himself, and an old wicker bottle which
fitted into his large deep waistcoat pocket--and who eyed each merry
face, as it passed him by, with such a deep scowl of malice and
ill-humour, as it was difficult to meet without feeling something the
worse for.

'A little before twilight, one Christmas Eve, Gabriel shouldered
his spade, lighted his lantern, and betook himself towards the old
churchyard; for he had got a grave to finish by next morning, and,
feeling very low, he thought it might raise his spirits, perhaps, if
he went on with his work at once. As he went his way, up the ancient
street, he saw the cheerful light of the blazing fires gleam through the
old casements, and heard the loud laugh and the cheerful shouts of those
who were assembled around them; he marked the bustling preparations for
next day's cheer, and smelled the numerous savoury odours consequent
thereupon, as they steamed up from the kitchen windows in clouds. All
this was gall and wormwood to the heart of Gabriel Grub; and when groups
of children bounded out of the houses, tripped across the road, and
were met, before they could knock at the opposite door, by half a dozen
curly-headed little rascals who crowded round them as they flocked
upstairs to spend the evening in their Christmas games, Gabriel smiled
grimly, and clutched the handle of his spade with a firmer grasp, as he
thought of measles, scarlet fever, thrush, whooping-cough, and a good
many other sources of consolation besides.

'In this happy frame of mind, Gabriel strode along, returning a short,
sullen growl to the good-humoured greetings of such of his neighbours as
now and then passed him, until he turned into the dark lane which led
to the churchyard. Now, Gabriel had been looking forward to reaching the
dark lane, because it was, generally speaking, a nice, gloomy, mournful
place, into which the townspeople did not much care to go, except in
broad daylight, and when the sun was shining; consequently, he was not
a little indignant to hear a young urchin roaring out some jolly song
about a merry Christmas, in this very sanctuary which had been called
Coffin Lane ever since the days of the old abbey, and the time of the
shaven-headed monks. As Gabriel walked on, and the voice drew nearer, he
found it proceeded from a small boy, who was hurrying along, to join one
of the little parties in the old street, and who, partly to keep himself
company, and partly to prepare himself for the occasion, was shouting
out the song at the highest pitch of his lungs. So Gabriel waited until
the boy came up, and then dodged him into a corner, and rapped him
over the head with his lantern five or six times, just to teach him to
modulate his voice. And as the boy hurried away with his hand to his
head, singing quite a different sort of tune, Gabriel Grub chuckled very
heartily to himself, and entered the churchyard, locking the gate behind
him.

'He took off his coat, set down his lantern, and getting into the
unfinished grave, worked at it for an hour or so with right good-will.
But the earth was hardened with the frost, and it was no very easy
matter to break it up, and shovel it out; and although there was a moon,
it was a very young one, and shed little light upon the grave, which was
in the shadow of the church. At any other time, these obstacles would
have made Gabriel Grub very moody and miserable, but he was so well
pleased with having stopped the small boy's singing, that he took little
heed of the scanty progress he had made, and looked down into the
grave, when he had finished work for the night, with grim satisfaction,
murmuring as he gathered up his things--

     Brave lodgings for one, brave lodgings for one,
     A few feet of cold earth, when life is done;
     A stone at the head, a stone at the feet,
     A rich, juicy meal for the worms to eat;
     Rank grass overhead, and damp clay around,
     Brave lodgings for one, these, in holy ground!

'"Ho! ho!" laughed Gabriel Grub, as he sat himself down on a flat
tombstone which was a favourite resting-place of his, and drew forth his
wicker bottle. "A coffin at Christmas! A Christmas box! Ho! ho! ho!"

'"Ho! ho! ho!" repeated a voice which sounded close behind him.

'Gabriel paused, in some alarm, in the act of raising the wicker bottle
to his lips, and looked round. The bottom of the oldest grave about him
was not more still and quiet than the churchyard in the pale moonlight.
The cold hoar frost glistened on the tombstones, and sparkled like rows
of gems, among the stone carvings of the old church. The snow lay hard
and crisp upon the ground; and spread over the thickly-strewn mounds
of earth, so white and smooth a cover that it seemed as if corpses lay
there, hidden only by their winding sheets. Not the faintest rustle
broke the profound tranquillity of the solemn scene. Sound itself
appeared to be frozen up, all was so cold and still.

'"It was the echoes," said Gabriel Grub, raising the bottle to his lips
again.

'"It was NOT," said a deep voice.

'Gabriel started up, and stood rooted to the spot with astonishment and
terror; for his eyes rested on a form that made his blood run cold.

'Seated on an upright tombstone, close to him, was a strange, unearthly
figure, whom Gabriel felt at once, was no being of this world. His long,
fantastic legs which might have reached the ground, were cocked up, and
crossed after a quaint, fantastic fashion; his sinewy arms were bare;
and his hands rested on his knees. On his short, round body, he wore a
close covering, ornamented with small slashes; a short cloak dangled at
his back; the collar was cut into curious peaks, which served the goblin
in lieu of ruff or neckerchief; and his shoes curled up at his toes
into long points. On his head, he wore a broad-brimmed sugar-loaf hat,
garnished with a single feather. The hat was covered with the white
frost; and the goblin looked as if he had sat on the same tombstone very
comfortably, for two or three hundred years. He was sitting perfectly
still; his tongue was put out, as if in derision; and he was grinning at
Gabriel Grub with such a grin as only a goblin could call up.

'"It was NOT the echoes," said the goblin.

'Gabriel Grub was paralysed, and could make no reply.

'"What do you do here on Christmas Eve?" said the goblin sternly. '"I
came to dig a grave, Sir," stammered Gabriel Grub.

'"What man wanders among graves and churchyards on such a night as
this?" cried the goblin.

'"Gabriel Grub! Gabriel Grub!" screamed a wild chorus of voices that
seemed to fill the churchyard. Gabriel looked fearfully round--nothing
was to be seen.

'"What have you got in that bottle?" said the goblin.

'"Hollands, sir," replied the sexton, trembling more than ever; for
he had bought it of the smugglers, and he thought that perhaps his
questioner might be in the excise department of the goblins.

'"Who drinks Hollands alone, and in a churchyard, on such a night as
this?" said the goblin.

'"Gabriel Grub! Gabriel Grub!" exclaimed the wild voices again.

'The goblin leered maliciously at the terrified sexton, and then raising
his voice, exclaimed--

'"And who, then, is our fair and lawful prize?"

'To this inquiry the invisible chorus replied, in a strain that sounded
like the voices of many choristers singing to the mighty swell of the
old church organ--a strain that seemed borne to the sexton's ears upon
a wild wind, and to die away as it passed onward; but the burden of the
reply was still the same, "Gabriel Grub! Gabriel Grub!"

'The goblin grinned a broader grin than before, as he said, "Well,
Gabriel, what do you say to this?"

'The sexton gasped for breath. '"What do you think of this, Gabriel?"
said the goblin, kicking up his feet in the air on either side of the
tombstone, and looking at the turned-up points with as much complacency
as if he had been contemplating the most fashionable pair of Wellingtons
in all Bond Street.

'"It's--it's--very curious, Sir," replied the sexton, half dead with
fright; "very curious, and very pretty, but I think I'll go back and
finish my work, Sir, if you please."

'"Work!" said the goblin, "what work?"

'"The grave, Sir; making the grave," stammered the sexton.

'"Oh, the grave, eh?" said the goblin; "who makes graves at a time when
all other men are merry, and takes a pleasure in it?"

'Again the mysterious voices replied, "Gabriel Grub! Gabriel Grub!"

'"I am afraid my friends want you, Gabriel," said the goblin, thrusting
his tongue farther into his cheek than ever--and a most astonishing
tongue it was--"I'm afraid my friends want you, Gabriel," said the
goblin.

'"Under favour, Sir," replied the horror-stricken sexton, "I don't think
they can, Sir; they don't know me, Sir; I don't think the gentlemen have
ever seen me, Sir."

'"Oh, yes, they have," replied the goblin; "we know the man with the
sulky face and grim scowl, that came down the street to-night, throwing
his evil looks at the children, and grasping his burying-spade the
tighter. We know the man who struck the boy in the envious malice of his
heart, because the boy could be merry, and he could not. We know him, we
know him."

'Here, the goblin gave a loud, shrill laugh, which the echoes returned
twentyfold; and throwing his legs up in the air, stood upon his head, or
rather upon the very point of his sugar-loaf hat, on the narrow edge of
the tombstone, whence he threw a Somerset with extraordinary agility,
right to the sexton's feet, at which he planted himself in the attitude
in which tailors generally sit upon the shop-board.

'"I--I--am afraid I must leave you, Sir," said the sexton, making an
effort to move.

'"Leave us!" said the goblin, "Gabriel Grub going to leave us. Ho! ho!
ho!"

'As the goblin laughed, the sexton observed, for one instant, a
brilliant illumination within the windows of the church, as if the
whole building were lighted up; it disappeared, the organ pealed forth
a lively air, and whole troops of goblins, the very counterpart of the
first one, poured into the churchyard, and began playing at leap-frog
with the tombstones, never stopping for an instant to take breath, but
"overing" the highest among them, one after the other, with the most
marvellous dexterity. The first goblin was a most astonishing leaper,
and none of the others could come near him; even in the extremity of his
terror the sexton could not help observing, that while his friends were
content to leap over the common-sized gravestones, the first one took
the family vaults, iron railings and all, with as much ease as if they
had been so many street-posts.

'At last the game reached to a most exciting pitch; the organ played
quicker and quicker, and the goblins leaped faster and faster, coiling
themselves up, rolling head over heels upon the ground, and bounding
over the tombstones like footballs. The sexton's brain whirled round
with the rapidity of the motion he beheld, and his legs reeled beneath
him, as the spirits flew before his eyes; when the goblin king, suddenly
darting towards him, laid his hand upon his collar, and sank with him
through the earth.

'When Gabriel Grub had had time to fetch his breath, which the rapidity
of his descent had for the moment taken away, he found himself in what
appeared to be a large cavern, surrounded on all sides by crowds of
goblins, ugly and grim; in the centre of the room, on an elevated seat,
was stationed his friend of the churchyard; and close behind him stood
Gabriel Grub himself, without power of motion.

'"Cold to-night," said the king of the goblins, "very cold. A glass of
something warm here!"

'At this command, half a dozen officious goblins, with a perpetual smile
upon their faces, whom Gabriel Grub imagined to be courtiers, on that
account, hastily disappeared, and presently returned with a goblet of
liquid fire, which they presented to the king.

'"Ah!" cried the goblin, whose cheeks and throat were transparent, as
he tossed down the flame, "this warms one, indeed! Bring a bumper of the
same, for Mr. Grub."

'It was in vain for the unfortunate sexton to protest that he was not in
the habit of taking anything warm at night; one of the goblins held
him while another poured the blazing liquid down his throat; the whole
assembly screeched with laughter, as he coughed and choked, and wiped
away the tears which gushed plentifully from his eyes, after swallowing
the burning draught.

'"And now," said the king, fantastically poking the taper corner of his
sugar-loaf hat into the sexton's eye, and thereby occasioning him the
most exquisite pain; "and now, show the man of misery and gloom, a few
of the pictures from our own great storehouse!"

'As the goblin said this, a thick cloud which obscured the remoter end
of the cavern rolled gradually away, and disclosed, apparently at a
great distance, a small and scantily furnished, but neat and clean
apartment. A crowd of little children were gathered round a bright fire,
clinging to their mother's gown, and gambolling around her chair. The
mother occasionally rose, and drew aside the window-curtain, as if to
look for some expected object; a frugal meal was ready spread upon the
table; and an elbow chair was placed near the fire. A knock was heard at
the door; the mother opened it, and the children crowded round her, and
clapped their hands for joy, as their father entered. He was wet and
weary, and shook the snow from his garments, as the children crowded
round him, and seizing his cloak, hat, stick, and gloves, with busy
zeal, ran with them from the room. Then, as he sat down to his meal
before the fire, the children climbed about his knee, and the mother sat
by his side, and all seemed happiness and comfort.

'But a change came upon the view, almost imperceptibly. The scene was
altered to a small bedroom, where the fairest and youngest child lay
dying; the roses had fled from his cheek, and the light from his eye;
and even as the sexton looked upon him with an interest he had never
felt or known before, he died. His young brothers and sisters crowded
round his little bed, and seized his tiny hand, so cold and heavy; but
they shrank back from its touch, and looked with awe on his infant face;
for calm and tranquil as it was, and sleeping in rest and peace as the
beautiful child seemed to be, they saw that he was dead, and they knew
that he was an angel looking down upon, and blessing them, from a bright
and happy Heaven.

'Again the light cloud passed across the picture, and again the subject
changed. The father and mother were old and helpless now, and the number
of those about them was diminished more than half; but content and
cheerfulness sat on every face, and beamed in every eye, as they crowded
round the fireside, and told and listened to old stories of earlier and
bygone days. Slowly and peacefully, the father sank into the grave, and,
soon after, the sharer of all his cares and troubles followed him to a
place of rest. The few who yet survived them, kneeled by their tomb, and
watered the green turf which covered it with their tears; then rose,
and turned away, sadly and mournfully, but not with bitter cries, or
despairing lamentations, for they knew that they should one day meet
again; and once more they mixed with the busy world, and their content
and cheerfulness were restored. The cloud settled upon the picture, and
concealed it from the sexton's view.

'"What do you think of THAT?" said the goblin, turning his large face
towards Gabriel Grub.

'Gabriel murmured out something about its being very pretty, and looked
somewhat ashamed, as the goblin bent his fiery eyes upon him.

'"You miserable man!" said the goblin, in a tone of excessive contempt.
"You!" He appeared disposed to add more, but indignation choked
his utterance, so he lifted up one of his very pliable legs, and,
flourishing it above his head a little, to insure his aim, administered
a good sound kick to Gabriel Grub; immediately after which, all the
goblins in waiting crowded round the wretched sexton, and kicked him
without mercy, according to the established and invariable custom of
courtiers upon earth, who kick whom royalty kicks, and hug whom royalty
hugs.

'"Show him some more!" said the king of the goblins.

'At these words, the cloud was dispelled, and a rich and beautiful
landscape was disclosed to view--there is just such another, to this
day, within half a mile of the old abbey town. The sun shone from out
the clear blue sky, the water sparkled beneath his rays, and the
trees looked greener, and the flowers more gay, beneath its cheering
influence. The water rippled on with a pleasant sound, the trees rustled
in the light wind that murmured among their leaves, the birds sang upon
the boughs, and the lark carolled on high her welcome to the morning.
Yes, it was morning; the bright, balmy morning of summer; the minutest
leaf, the smallest blade of grass, was instinct with life. The ant crept
forth to her daily toil, the butterfly fluttered and basked in the warm
rays of the sun; myriads of insects spread their transparent wings, and
revelled in their brief but happy existence. Man walked forth, elated
with the scene; and all was brightness and splendour.

'"YOU a miserable man!" said the king of the goblins, in a more
contemptuous tone than before. And again the king of the goblins gave
his leg a flourish; again it descended on the shoulders of the sexton;
and again the attendant goblins imitated the example of their chief.

'Many a time the cloud went and came, and many a lesson it taught to
Gabriel Grub, who, although his shoulders smarted with pain from the
frequent applications of the goblins' feet thereunto, looked on with an
interest that nothing could diminish. He saw that men who worked hard,
and earned their scanty bread with lives of labour, were cheerful and
happy; and that to the most ignorant, the sweet face of Nature was a
never-failing source of cheerfulness and joy. He saw those who had been
delicately nurtured, and tenderly brought up, cheerful under privations,
and superior to suffering, that would have crushed many of a rougher
grain, because they bore within their own bosoms the materials of
happiness, contentment, and peace. He saw that women, the tenderest
and most fragile of all God's creatures, were the oftenest superior to
sorrow, adversity, and distress; and he saw that it was because they
bore, in their own hearts, an inexhaustible well-spring of affection and
devotion. Above all, he saw that men like himself, who snarled at the
mirth and cheerfulness of others, were the foulest weeds on the fair
surface of the earth; and setting all the good of the world against
the evil, he came to the conclusion that it was a very decent and
respectable sort of world after all. No sooner had he formed it, than
the cloud which had closed over the last picture, seemed to settle on
his senses, and lull him to repose. One by one, the goblins faded from
his sight; and, as the last one disappeared, he sank to sleep.

'The day had broken when Gabriel Grub awoke, and found himself lying at
full length on the flat gravestone in the churchyard, with the wicker
bottle lying empty by his side, and his coat, spade, and lantern, all
well whitened by the last night's frost, scattered on the ground. The
stone on which he had first seen the goblin seated, stood bolt upright
before him, and the grave at which he had worked, the night before, was
not far off. At first, he began to doubt the reality of his adventures,
but the acute pain in his shoulders when he attempted to rise, assured
him that the kicking of the goblins was certainly not ideal. He was
staggered again, by observing no traces of footsteps in the snow on
which the goblins had played at leap-frog with the gravestones, but he
speedily accounted for this circumstance when he remembered that, being
spirits, they would leave no visible impression behind them. So, Gabriel
Grub got on his feet as well as he could, for the pain in his back; and,
brushing the frost off his coat, put it on, and turned his face towards
the town.

'But he was an altered man, and he could not bear the thought of
returning to a place where his repentance would be scoffed at, and his
reformation disbelieved. He hesitated for a few moments; and then turned
away to wander where he might, and seek his bread elsewhere.

'The lantern, the spade, and the wicker bottle were found, that day, in
the churchyard. There were a great many speculations about the sexton's
fate, at first, but it was speedily determined that he had been carried
away by the goblins; and there were not wanting some very credible
witnesses who had distinctly seen him whisked through the air on the
back of a chestnut horse blind of one eye, with the hind-quarters of a
lion, and the tail of a bear. At length all this was devoutly believed;
and the new sexton used to exhibit to the curious, for a trifling
emolument, a good-sized piece of the church weathercock which had been
accidentally kicked off by the aforesaid horse in his aerial flight, and
picked up by himself in the churchyard, a year or two afterwards.

'Unfortunately, these stories were somewhat disturbed by the
unlooked-for reappearance of Gabriel Grub himself, some ten years
afterwards, a ragged, contented, rheumatic old man. He told his story to
the clergyman, and also to the mayor; and in course of time it began to
be received as a matter of history, in which form it has continued
down to this very day. The believers in the weathercock tale, having
misplaced their confidence once, were not easily prevailed upon to part
with it again, so they looked as wise as they could, shrugged their
shoulders, touched their foreheads, and murmured something about Gabriel
Grub having drunk all the Hollands, and then fallen asleep on the
flat tombstone; and they affected to explain what he supposed he had
witnessed in the goblin's cavern, by saying that he had seen the world,
and grown wiser. But this opinion, which was by no means a popular
one at any time, gradually died off; and be the matter how it may, as
Gabriel Grub was afflicted with rheumatism to the end of his days, this
story has at least one moral, if it teach no better one--and that is,
that if a man turn sulky and drink by himself at Christmas time, he may
make up his mind to be not a bit the better for it: let the spirits
be never so good, or let them be even as many degrees beyond proof, as
those which Gabriel Grub saw in the goblin's cavern.'



CHAPTER XXX. HOW THE PICKWICKIANS MADE AND CULTIVATED THE ACQUAINTANCE
OF A COUPLE OF NICE YOUNG MEN BELONGING TO ONE OF THE LIBERAL
PROFESSIONS; HOW THEY DISPORTED THEMSELVES ON THE ICE; AND HOW THEIR
VISIT CAME TO A CONCLUSION


'Well, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick, as that favoured servitor entered his
bed-chamber, with his warm water, on the morning of Christmas Day,
'still frosty?'

'Water in the wash-hand basin's a mask o' ice, Sir,' responded Sam.

'Severe weather, Sam,' observed Mr. Pickwick.

'Fine time for them as is well wropped up, as the Polar bear said to
himself, ven he was practising his skating,' replied Mr. Weller.

'I shall be down in a quarter of an hour, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick,
untying his nightcap.

'Wery good, sir,' replied Sam. 'There's a couple o' sawbones
downstairs.'

'A couple of what!' exclaimed Mr. Pickwick, sitting up in bed.

'A couple o' sawbones,' said Sam.

'What's a sawbones?' inquired Mr. Pickwick, not quite certain whether it
was a live animal, or something to eat.

'What! Don't you know what a sawbones is, sir?' inquired Mr. Weller. 'I
thought everybody know'd as a sawbones was a surgeon.'

'Oh, a surgeon, eh?' said Mr. Pickwick, with a smile.

'Just that, sir,' replied Sam. 'These here ones as is below, though,
ain't reg'lar thoroughbred sawbones; they're only in trainin'.' 'In
other words they're medical students, I suppose?' said Mr. Pickwick.

Sam Weller nodded assent.

'I am glad of it,' said Mr. Pickwick, casting his nightcap energetically
on the counterpane. 'They are fine fellows--very fine fellows; with
judgments matured by observation and reflection; and tastes refined by
reading and study. I am very glad of it.'

'They're a-smokin' cigars by the kitchen fire,' said Sam.

'Ah!' observed Mr. Pickwick, rubbing his hands, 'overflowing with kindly
feelings and animal spirits. Just what I like to see.' 'And one on 'em,'
said Sam, not noticing his master's interruption, 'one on 'em's got
his legs on the table, and is a-drinking brandy neat, vile the t'other
one--him in the barnacles--has got a barrel o' oysters atween his knees,
which he's a-openin' like steam, and as fast as he eats 'em, he takes a
aim vith the shells at young dropsy, who's a sittin' down fast asleep,
in the chimbley corner.'

'Eccentricities of genius, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'You may retire.'

Sam did retire accordingly. Mr. Pickwick at the expiration of the
quarter of an hour, went down to breakfast.

'Here he is at last!' said old Mr. Wardle. 'Pickwick, this is Miss
Allen's brother, Mr. Benjamin Allen. Ben we call him, and so may you, if
you like. This gentleman is his very particular friend, Mr.--'

'Mr. Bob Sawyer,'interposed Mr. Benjamin Allen; whereupon Mr. Bob Sawyer
and Mr. Benjamin Allen laughed in concert.

Mr. Pickwick bowed to Bob Sawyer, and Bob Sawyer bowed to Mr. Pickwick.
Bob and his very particular friend then applied themselves most
assiduously to the eatables before them; and Mr. Pickwick had an
opportunity of glancing at them both.

Mr. Benjamin Allen was a coarse, stout, thick-set young man, with
black hair cut rather short, and a white face cut rather long. He was
embellished with spectacles, and wore a white neckerchief. Below his
single-breasted black surtout, which was buttoned up to his chin,
appeared the usual number of pepper-and-salt coloured legs, terminating
in a pair of imperfectly polished boots. Although his coat was short in
the sleeves, it disclosed no vestige of a linen wristband; and although
there was quite enough of his face to admit of the encroachment of
a shirt collar, it was not graced by the smallest approach to that
appendage. He presented, altogether, rather a mildewy appearance, and
emitted a fragrant odour of full-flavoured Cubas.

Mr. Bob Sawyer, who was habited in a coarse, blue coat, which, without
being either a greatcoat or a surtout, partook of the nature and
qualities of both, had about him that sort of slovenly smartness, and
swaggering gait, which is peculiar to young gentlemen who smoke in the
streets by day, shout and scream in the same by night, call waiters by
their Christian names, and do various other acts and deeds of an equally
facetious description. He wore a pair of plaid trousers, and a large,
rough, double-breasted waistcoat; out of doors, he carried a thick
stick with a big top. He eschewed gloves, and looked, upon the whole,
something like a dissipated Robinson Crusoe.

Such were the two worthies to whom Mr. Pickwick was introduced, as he
took his seat at the breakfast-table on Christmas morning.

'Splendid morning, gentlemen,' said Mr. Pickwick.

Mr. Bob Sawyer slightly nodded his assent to the proposition, and asked
Mr. Benjamin Allen for the mustard.

'Have you come far this morning, gentlemen?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.

'Blue Lion at Muggleton,' briefly responded Mr. Allen.

'You should have joined us last night,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'So we should,' replied Bob Sawyer, 'but the brandy was too good to
leave in a hurry; wasn't it, Ben?'

'Certainly,' said Mr. Benjamin Allen; 'and the cigars were not bad, or
the pork-chops either; were they, Bob?'

'Decidedly not,' said Bob. The particular friends resumed their attack
upon the breakfast, more freely than before, as if the recollection of
last night's supper had imparted a new relish to the meal.

'Peg away, Bob,' said Mr. Allen, to his companion, encouragingly.

'So I do,' replied Bob Sawyer. And so, to do him justice, he did.

'Nothing like dissecting, to give one an appetite,' said Mr. Bob Sawyer,
looking round the table.

Mr. Pickwick slightly shuddered.

'By the bye, Bob,' said Mr. Allen, 'have you finished that leg yet?'

'Nearly,' replied Sawyer, helping himself to half a fowl as he spoke.
'It's a very muscular one for a child's.' 'Is it?' inquired Mr. Allen
carelessly.

'Very,' said Bob Sawyer, with his mouth full.

'I've put my name down for an arm at our place,' said Mr. Allen. 'We're
clubbing for a subject, and the list is nearly full, only we can't get
hold of any fellow that wants a head. I wish you'd take it.'

'No,' replied 'Bob Sawyer; 'can't afford expensive luxuries.'

'Nonsense!' said Allen.

'Can't, indeed,' rejoined Bob Sawyer, 'I wouldn't mind a brain, but I
couldn't stand a whole head.' 'Hush, hush, gentlemen, pray,' said Mr.
Pickwick, 'I hear the ladies.'

As Mr. Pickwick spoke, the ladies, gallantly escorted by Messrs.
Snodgrass, Winkle, and Tupman, returned from an early walk.

'Why, Ben!' said Arabella, in a tone which expressed more surprise than
pleasure at the sight of her brother.

'Come to take you home to-morrow,' replied Benjamin.

Mr. Winkle turned pale.

'Don't you see Bob Sawyer, Arabella?' inquired Mr. Benjamin Allen,
somewhat reproachfully. Arabella gracefully held out her hand, in
acknowledgment of Bob Sawyer's presence. A thrill of hatred struck to
Mr. Winkle's heart, as Bob Sawyer inflicted on the proffered hand a
perceptible squeeze.

'Ben, dear!' said Arabella, blushing; 'have--have--you been introduced
to Mr. Winkle?'

'I have not been, but I shall be very happy to be, Arabella,' replied
her brother gravely. Here Mr. Allen bowed grimly to Mr. Winkle, while
Mr. Winkle and Mr. Bob Sawyer glanced mutual distrust out of the corners
of their eyes.

The arrival of the two new visitors, and the consequent check upon Mr.
Winkle and the young lady with the fur round her boots, would in all
probability have proved a very unpleasant interruption to the hilarity
of the party, had not the cheerfulness of Mr. Pickwick, and the good
humour of the host, been exerted to the very utmost for the common weal.
Mr. Winkle gradually insinuated himself into the good graces of Mr.
Benjamin Allen, and even joined in a friendly conversation with Mr.
Bob Sawyer; who, enlivened with the brandy, and the breakfast, and the
talking, gradually ripened into a state of extreme facetiousness, and
related with much glee an agreeable anecdote, about the removal of a
tumour on some gentleman's head, which he illustrated by means of an
oyster-knife and a half-quartern loaf, to the great edification of
the assembled company. Then the whole train went to church, where Mr.
Benjamin Allen fell fast asleep; while Mr. Bob Sawyer abstracted his
thoughts from worldly matters, by the ingenious process of carving his
name on the seat of the pew, in corpulent letters of four inches long.

'Now,' said Wardle, after a substantial lunch, with the agreeable items
of strong beer and cherry-brandy, had been done ample justice to, 'what
say you to an hour on the ice? We shall have plenty of time.'

'Capital!' said Mr. Benjamin Allen.

'Prime!' ejaculated Mr. Bob Sawyer.

'You skate, of course, Winkle?' said Wardle.

'Ye-yes; oh, yes,' replied Mr. Winkle. 'I--I--am RATHER out of
practice.'

'Oh, DO skate, Mr. Winkle,' said Arabella. 'I like to see it so much.'

'Oh, it is SO graceful,' said another young lady. A third young lady
said it was elegant, and a fourth expressed her opinion that it was
'swan-like.'

'I should be very happy, I'm sure,' said Mr. Winkle, reddening; 'but I
have no skates.'

This objection was at once overruled. Trundle had a couple of pair,
and the fat boy announced that there were half a dozen more downstairs;
whereat Mr. Winkle expressed exquisite delight, and looked exquisitely
uncomfortable.

Old Wardle led the way to a pretty large sheet of ice; and the fat
boy and Mr. Weller, having shovelled and swept away the snow which had
fallen on it during the night, Mr. Bob Sawyer adjusted his skates with
a dexterity which to Mr. Winkle was perfectly marvellous, and described
circles with his left leg, and cut figures of eight, and inscribed upon
the ice, without once stopping for breath, a great many other pleasant
and astonishing devices, to the excessive satisfaction of Mr.
Pickwick, Mr. Tupman, and the ladies; which reached a pitch of positive
enthusiasm, when old Wardle and Benjamin Allen, assisted by the
aforesaid Bob Sawyer, performed some mystic evolutions, which they
called a reel.

All this time, Mr. Winkle, with his face and hands blue with the cold,
had been forcing a gimlet into the sole of his feet, and putting his
skates on, with the points behind, and getting the straps into a very
complicated and entangled state, with the assistance of Mr. Snodgrass,
who knew rather less about skates than a Hindoo. At length, however,
with the assistance of Mr. Weller, the unfortunate skates were firmly
screwed and buckled on, and Mr. Winkle was raised to his feet.

'Now, then, Sir,' said Sam, in an encouraging tone; 'off vith you, and
show 'em how to do it.'

'Stop, Sam, stop!' said Mr. Winkle, trembling violently, and clutching
hold of Sam's arms with the grasp of a drowning man. 'How slippery it
is, Sam!'

'Not an uncommon thing upon ice, Sir,' replied Mr. Weller. 'Hold up,
Sir!'

This last observation of Mr. Weller's bore reference to a demonstration
Mr. Winkle made at the instant, of a frantic desire to throw his feet in
the air, and dash the back of his head on the ice.

'These--these--are very awkward skates; ain't they, Sam?' inquired Mr.
Winkle, staggering.

'I'm afeerd there's a orkard gen'l'm'n in 'em, Sir,' replied Sam.

'Now, Winkle,' cried Mr. Pickwick, quite unconscious that there was
anything the matter. 'Come; the ladies are all anxiety.'

'Yes, yes,' replied Mr. Winkle, with a ghastly smile. 'I'm coming.'

'Just a-goin' to begin,' said Sam, endeavouring to disengage himself.
'Now, Sir, start off!'

'Stop an instant, Sam,' gasped Mr. Winkle, clinging most affectionately
to Mr. Weller. 'I find I've got a couple of coats at home that I don't
want, Sam. You may have them, Sam.'

'Thank'ee, Sir,' replied Mr. Weller.

'Never mind touching your hat, Sam,' said Mr. Winkle hastily. 'You
needn't take your hand away to do that. I meant to have given you five
shillings this morning for a Christmas box, Sam. I'll give it you this
afternoon, Sam.'

'You're wery good, sir,' replied Mr. Weller.

'Just hold me at first, Sam; will you?' said Mr. Winkle. 'There--that's
right. I shall soon get in the way of it, Sam. Not too fast, Sam; not
too fast.'

Mr. Winkle, stooping forward, with his body half doubled up, was being
assisted over the ice by Mr. Weller, in a very singular and un-swan-like
manner, when Mr. Pickwick most innocently shouted from the opposite
bank--

'Sam!'

'Sir?'

'Here. I want you.'

'Let go, Sir,' said Sam. 'Don't you hear the governor a-callin'? Let go,
sir.'

With a violent effort, Mr. Weller disengaged himself from the grasp of
the agonised Pickwickian, and, in so doing, administered a considerable
impetus to the unhappy Mr. Winkle. With an accuracy which no degree of
dexterity or practice could have insured, that unfortunate gentleman
bore swiftly down into the centre of the reel, at the very moment when
Mr. Bob Sawyer was performing a flourish of unparalleled beauty. Mr.
Winkle struck wildly against him, and with a loud crash they both fell
heavily down. Mr. Pickwick ran to the spot. Bob Sawyer had risen to his
feet, but Mr. Winkle was far too wise to do anything of the kind, in
skates. He was seated on the ice, making spasmodic efforts to smile; but
anguish was depicted on every lineament of his countenance.

'Are you hurt?' inquired Mr. Benjamin Allen, with great anxiety.

'Not much,' said Mr. Winkle, rubbing his back very hard. 'I wish you'd
let me bleed you,' said Mr. Benjamin, with great eagerness.

'No, thank you,' replied Mr. Winkle hurriedly.

'I really think you had better,' said Allen.

'Thank you,' replied Mr. Winkle; 'I'd rather not.'

'What do YOU think, Mr. Pickwick?' inquired Bob Sawyer.

Mr. Pickwick was excited and indignant. He beckoned to Mr. Weller, and
said in a stern voice, 'Take his skates off.'

'No; but really I had scarcely begun,' remonstrated Mr. Winkle.

'Take his skates off,' repeated Mr. Pickwick firmly.

The command was not to be resisted. Mr. Winkle allowed Sam to obey it,
in silence.

'Lift him up,' said Mr. Pickwick. Sam assisted him to rise.

Mr. Pickwick retired a few paces apart from the bystanders; and,
beckoning his friend to approach, fixed a searching look upon him,
and uttered in a low, but distinct and emphatic tone, these remarkable
words--

'You're a humbug, sir.' 'A what?' said Mr. Winkle, starting.

'A humbug, Sir. I will speak plainer, if you wish it. An impostor, sir.'

With those words, Mr. Pickwick turned slowly on his heel, and rejoined
his friends.

While Mr. Pickwick was delivering himself of the sentiment just
recorded, Mr. Weller and the fat boy, having by their joint endeavours
cut out a slide, were exercising themselves thereupon, in a very
masterly and brilliant manner. Sam Weller, in particular, was displaying
that beautiful feat of fancy-sliding which is currently denominated
'knocking at the cobbler's door,' and which is achieved by skimming over
the ice on one foot, and occasionally giving a postman's knock upon it
with the other. It was a good long slide, and there was something in the
motion which Mr. Pickwick, who was very cold with standing still, could
not help envying.

'It looks a nice warm exercise that, doesn't it?' he inquired of Wardle,
when that gentleman was thoroughly out of breath, by reason of the
indefatigable manner in which he had converted his legs into a pair of
compasses, and drawn complicated problems on the ice.

'Ah, it does, indeed,' replied Wardle. 'Do you slide?'

'I used to do so, on the gutters, when I was a boy,' replied Mr.
Pickwick.

'Try it now,' said Wardle.

'Oh, do, please, Mr. Pickwick!' cried all the ladies.

'I should be very happy to afford you any amusement,' replied Mr.
Pickwick, 'but I haven't done such a thing these thirty years.'

'Pooh! pooh! Nonsense!' said Wardle, dragging off his skates with the
impetuosity which characterised all his proceedings. 'Here; I'll keep
you company; come along!' And away went the good-tempered old fellow
down the slide, with a rapidity which came very close upon Mr. Weller,
and beat the fat boy all to nothing.

Mr. Pickwick paused, considered, pulled off his gloves and put them in
his hat; took two or three short runs, baulked himself as often, and at
last took another run, and went slowly and gravely down the slide, with
his feet about a yard and a quarter apart, amidst the gratified shouts
of all the spectators.

'Keep the pot a-bilin', Sir!' said Sam; and down went Wardle again, and
then Mr. Pickwick, and then Sam, and then Mr. Winkle, and then Mr. Bob
Sawyer, and then the fat boy, and then Mr. Snodgrass, following closely
upon each other's heels, and running after each other with as much
eagerness as if their future prospects in life depended on their
expedition.

It was the most intensely interesting thing, to observe the manner in
which Mr. Pickwick performed his share in the ceremony; to watch the
torture of anxiety with which he viewed the person behind, gaining upon
him at the imminent hazard of tripping him up; to see him gradually
expend the painful force he had put on at first, and turn slowly round
on the slide, with his face towards the point from which he had started;
to contemplate the playful smile which mantled on his face when he had
accomplished the distance, and the eagerness with which he turned round
when he had done so, and ran after his predecessor, his black gaiters
tripping pleasantly through the snow, and his eyes beaming cheerfulness
and gladness through his spectacles. And when he was knocked down
(which happened upon the average every third round), it was the most
invigorating sight that can possibly be imagined, to behold him gather
up his hat, gloves, and handkerchief, with a glowing countenance, and
resume his station in the rank, with an ardour and enthusiasm that
nothing Could abate.

The sport was at its height, the sliding was at the quickest, the
laughter was at the loudest, when a sharp smart crack was heard. There
was a quick rush towards the bank, a wild scream from the ladies, and
a shout from Mr. Tupman. A large mass of ice disappeared; the water
bubbled up over it; Mr. Pickwick's hat, gloves, and handkerchief were
floating on the surface; and this was all of Mr. Pickwick that anybody
could see.

Dismay and anguish were depicted on every countenance; the males turned
pale, and the females fainted; Mr. Snodgrass and Mr. Winkle grasped each
other by the hand, and gazed at the spot where their leader had gone
down, with frenzied eagerness; while Mr. Tupman, by way of rendering the
promptest assistance, and at the same time conveying to any persons
who might be within hearing, the clearest possible notion of the
catastrophe, ran off across the country at his utmost speed, screaming
'Fire!' with all his might.

It was at this moment, when old Wardle and Sam Weller were approaching
the hole with cautious steps, and Mr. Benjamin Allen was holding a
hurried consultation with Mr. Bob Sawyer on the advisability of bleeding
the company generally, as an improving little bit of professional
practice--it was at this very moment, that a face, head, and shoulders,
emerged from beneath the water, and disclosed the features and
spectacles of Mr. Pickwick.

'Keep yourself up for an instant--for only one instant!' bawled Mr.
Snodgrass.

'Yes, do; let me implore you--for my sake!' roared Mr. Winkle, deeply
affected. The adjuration was rather unnecessary; the probability being,
that if Mr. Pickwick had declined to keep himself up for anybody else's
sake, it would have occurred to him that he might as well do so, for his
own.

'Do you feel the bottom there, old fellow?' said Wardle.

'Yes, certainly,' replied Mr. Pickwick, wringing the water from his head
and face, and gasping for breath. 'I fell upon my back. I couldn't get
on my feet at first.'

The clay upon so much of Mr. Pickwick's coat as was yet visible, bore
testimony to the accuracy of this statement; and as the fears of
the spectators were still further relieved by the fat boy's suddenly
recollecting that the water was nowhere more than five feet deep,
prodigies of valour were performed to get him out. After a vast quantity
of splashing, and cracking, and struggling, Mr. Pickwick was at length
fairly extricated from his unpleasant position, and once more stood on
dry land.

'Oh, he'll catch his death of cold,' said Emily.

'Dear old thing!' said Arabella. 'Let me wrap this shawl round you, Mr.
Pickwick.'

'Ah, that's the best thing you can do,' said Wardle; 'and when you've
got it on, run home as fast as your legs can carry you, and jump into
bed directly.' A dozen shawls were offered on the instant. Three or four
of the thickest having been selected, Mr. Pickwick was wrapped up, and
started off, under the guidance of Mr. Weller; presenting the singular
phenomenon of an elderly gentleman, dripping wet, and without a hat,
with his arms bound down to his sides, skimming over the ground, without
any clearly-defined purpose, at the rate of six good English miles an
hour.

But Mr. Pickwick cared not for appearances in such an extreme case, and
urged on by Sam Weller, he kept at the very top of his speed until he
reached the door of Manor Farm, where Mr. Tupman had arrived some five
minutes before, and had frightened the old lady into palpitations of the
heart by impressing her with the unalterable conviction that the kitchen
chimney was on fire--a calamity which always presented itself in glowing
colours to the old lady's mind, when anybody about her evinced the
smallest agitation.

Mr. Pickwick paused not an instant until he was snug in bed. Sam Weller
lighted a blazing fire in the room, and took up his dinner; a bowl of
punch was carried up afterwards, and a grand carouse held in honour of
his safety. Old Wardle would not hear of his rising, so they made the
bed the chair, and Mr. Pickwick presided. A second and a third bowl were
ordered in; and when Mr. Pickwick awoke next morning, there was not a
symptom of rheumatism about him; which proves, as Mr. Bob Sawyer very
justly observed, that there is nothing like hot punch in such cases; and
that if ever hot punch did fail to act as a preventive, it was merely
because the patient fell into the vulgar error of not taking enough of
it.

The jovial party broke up next morning. Breakings-up are capital things
in our school-days, but in after life they are painful enough. Death,
self-interest, and fortune's changes, are every day breaking up many a
happy group, and scattering them far and wide; and the boys and girls
never come back again. We do not mean to say that it was exactly the
case in this particular instance; all we wish to inform the reader
is, that the different members of the party dispersed to their several
homes; that Mr. Pickwick and his friends once more took their seats on
the top of the Muggleton coach; and that Arabella Allen repaired to
her place of destination, wherever it might have been--we dare say Mr.
Winkle knew, but we confess we don't--under the care and guardianship of
her brother Benjamin, and his most intimate and particular friend, Mr.
Bob Sawyer.

Before they separated, however, that gentleman and Mr. Benjamin Allen
drew Mr. Pickwick aside with an air of some mystery; and Mr. Bob Sawyer,
thrusting his forefinger between two of Mr. Pickwick's ribs, and thereby
displaying his native drollery, and his knowledge of the anatomy of the
human frame, at one and the same time, inquired--

'I say, old boy, where do you hang out?' Mr. Pickwick replied that he
was at present suspended at the George and Vulture.

'I wish you'd come and see me,' said Bob Sawyer.

'Nothing would give me greater pleasure,' replied Mr. Pickwick.

'There's my lodgings,' said Mr. Bob Sawyer, producing a card. 'Lant
Street, Borough; it's near Guy's, and handy for me, you know. Little
distance after you've passed St. George's Church--turns out of the High
Street on the right hand side the way.'

'I shall find it,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Come on Thursday fortnight, and bring the other chaps with you,' said
Mr. Bob Sawyer; 'I'm going to have a few medical fellows that night.'

Mr. Pickwick expressed the pleasure it would afford him to meet the
medical fellows; and after Mr. Bob Sawyer had informed him that he meant
to be very cosy, and that his friend Ben was to be one of the party,
they shook hands and separated.

We feel that in this place we lay ourself open to the inquiry whether
Mr. Winkle was whispering, during this brief conversation, to Arabella
Allen; and if so, what he said; and furthermore, whether Mr. Snodgrass
was conversing apart with Emily Wardle; and if so, what HE said. To
this, we reply, that whatever they might have said to the ladies, they
said nothing at all to Mr. Pickwick or Mr. Tupman for eight-and-twenty
miles, and that they sighed very often, refused ale and brandy, and
looked gloomy. If our observant lady readers can deduce any satisfactory
inferences from these facts, we beg them by all means to do so.



CHAPTER XXXI. WHICH IS ALL ABOUT THE LAW, AND SUNDRY GREAT AUTHORITIES
LEARNED THEREIN


Scattered about, in various holes and corners of the Temple, are
certain dark and dirty chambers, in and out of which, all the morning
in vacation, and half the evening too in term time, there may be
seen constantly hurrying with bundles of papers under their arms, and
protruding from their pockets, an almost uninterrupted succession of
lawyers' clerks. There are several grades of lawyers' clerks. There
is the articled clerk, who has paid a premium, and is an attorney in
perspective, who runs a tailor's bill, receives invitations to parties,
knows a family in Gower Street, and another in Tavistock Square; who
goes out of town every long vacation to see his father, who keeps live
horses innumerable; and who is, in short, the very aristocrat of clerks.
There is the salaried clerk--out of door, or in door, as the case may
be--who devotes the major part of his thirty shillings a week to his
Personal pleasure and adornments, repairs half-price to the Adelphi
Theatre at least three times a week, dissipates majestically at the
cider cellars afterwards, and is a dirty caricature of the fashion which
expired six months ago. There is the middle-aged copying clerk, with a
large family, who is always shabby, and often drunk. And there are the
office lads in their first surtouts, who feel a befitting contempt for
boys at day-schools, club as they go home at night, for saveloys and
porter, and think there's nothing like 'life.' There are varieties of
the genus, too numerous to recapitulate, but however numerous they
may be, they are all to be seen, at certain regulated business hours,
hurrying to and from the places we have just mentioned.

These sequestered nooks are the public offices of the legal profession,
where writs are issued, judgments signed, declarations filed, and
numerous other ingenious machines put in motion for the torture and
torment of His Majesty's liege subjects, and the comfort and emolument
of the practitioners of the law. They are, for the most part,
low-roofed, mouldy rooms, where innumerable rolls of parchment, which
have been perspiring in secret for the last century, send forth an
agreeable odour, which is mingled by day with the scent of the dry-rot,
and by night with the various exhalations which arise from damp cloaks,
festering umbrellas, and the coarsest tallow candles.

About half-past seven o'clock in the evening, some ten days or a
fortnight after Mr. Pickwick and his friends returned to London, there
hurried into one of these offices, an individual in a brown coat and
brass buttons, whose long hair was scrupulously twisted round the rim of
his napless hat, and whose soiled drab trousers were so tightly strapped
over his Blucher boots, that his knees threatened every moment to start
from their concealment. He produced from his coat pockets a long and
narrow strip of parchment, on which the presiding functionary impressed
an illegible black stamp. He then drew forth four scraps of paper,
of similar dimensions, each containing a printed copy of the strip of
parchment with blanks for a name; and having filled up the blanks, put
all the five documents in his pocket, and hurried away.

The man in the brown coat, with the cabalistic documents in his pocket,
was no other than our old acquaintance Mr. Jackson, of the house of
Dodson & Fogg, Freeman's Court, Cornhill. Instead of returning to the
office whence he came, however, he bent his steps direct to Sun Court,
and walking straight into the George and Vulture, demanded to know
whether one Mr. Pickwick was within.

'Call Mr. Pickwick's servant, Tom,' said the barmaid of the George and
Vulture.

'Don't trouble yourself,' said Mr. Jackson. 'I've come on business. If
you'll show me Mr. Pickwick's room I'll step up myself.'

'What name, Sir?' said the waiter.

'Jackson,' replied the clerk.

The waiter stepped upstairs to announce Mr. Jackson; but Mr. Jackson
saved him the trouble by following close at his heels, and walking into
the apartment before he could articulate a syllable.

Mr. Pickwick had, that day, invited his three friends to dinner; they
were all seated round the fire, drinking their wine, when Mr. Jackson
presented himself, as above described.

'How de do, sir?' said Mr. Jackson, nodding to Mr. Pickwick.

That gentleman bowed, and looked somewhat surprised, for the physiognomy
of Mr. Jackson dwelt not in his recollection.

'I have called from Dodson and Fogg's,' said Mr. Jackson, in an
explanatory tone.

Mr. Pickwick roused at the name. 'I refer you to my attorney, Sir; Mr.
Perker, of Gray's Inn,' said he. 'Waiter, show this gentleman out.'

'Beg your pardon, Mr. Pickwick,' said Jackson, deliberately depositing
his hat on the floor, and drawing from his pocket the strip of
parchment. 'But personal service, by clerk or agent, in these cases, you
know, Mr. Pickwick--nothing like caution, sir, in all legal forms--eh?'

Here Mr. Jackson cast his eye on the parchment; and, resting his hands
on the table, and looking round with a winning and persuasive smile,
said, 'Now, come; don't let's have no words about such a little matter
as this. Which of you gentlemen's name's Snodgrass?'

At this inquiry, Mr. Snodgrass gave such a very undisguised and palpable
start, that no further reply was needed.

'Ah! I thought so,' said Mr. Jackson, more affably than before. 'I've a
little something to trouble you with, Sir.'

'Me!'exclaimed Mr. Snodgrass.

'It's only a subpoena in Bardell and Pickwick on behalf of the
plaintiff,' replied Jackson, singling out one of the slips of paper, and
producing a shilling from his waistcoat pocket. 'It'll come on, in the
settens after Term: fourteenth of Febooary, we expect; we've marked it a
special jury cause, and it's only ten down the paper. That's yours, Mr.
Snodgrass.' As Jackson said this, he presented the parchment before the
eyes of Mr. Snodgrass, and slipped the paper and the shilling into his
hand.

Mr. Tupman had witnessed this process in silent astonishment, when
Jackson, turning sharply upon him, said--

'I think I ain't mistaken when I say your name's Tupman, am I?'

Mr. Tupman looked at Mr. Pickwick; but, perceiving no encouragement in
that gentleman's widely-opened eyes to deny his name, said--

'Yes, my name is Tupman, Sir.'

'And that other gentleman's Mr. Winkle, I think?' said Jackson. Mr.
Winkle faltered out a reply in the affirmative; and both gentlemen were
forthwith invested with a slip of paper, and a shilling each, by the
dexterous Mr. Jackson.

'Now,' said Jackson, 'I'm afraid you'll think me rather troublesome, but
I want somebody else, if it ain't inconvenient. I have Samuel Weller's
name here, Mr. Pickwick.'

'Send my servant here, waiter,' said Mr. Pickwick. The waiter retired,
considerably astonished, and Mr. Pickwick motioned Jackson to a seat.

There was a painful pause, which was at length broken by the innocent
defendant. 'I suppose, Sir,' said Mr. Pickwick, his indignation rising
while he spoke--'I suppose, Sir, that it is the intention of your
employers to seek to criminate me upon the testimony of my own friends?'

Mr. Jackson struck his forefinger several times against the left side of
his nose, to intimate that he was not there to disclose the secrets of
the prison house, and playfully rejoined--

'Not knowin', can't say.'

'For what other reason, Sir,' pursued Mr. Pickwick, 'are these subpoenas
served upon them, if not for this?'

'Very good plant, Mr. Pickwick,' replied Jackson, slowly shaking his
head. 'But it won't do. No harm in trying, but there's little to be got
out of me.'

Here Mr. Jackson smiled once more upon the company, and, applying his
left thumb to the tip of his nose, worked a visionary coffee-mill with
his right hand, thereby performing a very graceful piece of pantomime
(then much in vogue, but now, unhappily, almost obsolete) which was
familiarly denominated 'taking a grinder.'

'No, no, Mr. Pickwick,' said Jackson, in conclusion; 'Perker's people
must guess what we've served these subpoenas for. If they can't, they
must wait till the action comes on, and then they'll find out.' Mr.
Pickwick bestowed a look of excessive disgust on his unwelcome visitor,
and would probably have hurled some tremendous anathema at the heads of
Messrs. Dodson & Fogg, had not Sam's entrance at the instant interrupted
him.

'Samuel Weller?' said Mr. Jackson, inquiringly.

'Vun o' the truest things as you've said for many a long year,' replied
Sam, in a most composed manner.

'Here's a subpoena for you, Mr. Weller,' said Jackson.

'What's that in English?' inquired Sam.

'Here's the original,' said Jackson, declining the required explanation.

'Which?' said Sam.

'This,' replied Jackson, shaking the parchment.

'Oh, that's the 'rig'nal, is it?' said Sam. 'Well, I'm wery glad I've
seen the 'rig'nal, 'cos it's a gratifyin' sort o' thing, and eases vun's
mind so much.'

'And here's the shilling,' said Jackson. 'It's from Dodson and Fogg's.'

'And it's uncommon handsome o' Dodson and Fogg, as knows so little of
me, to come down vith a present,' said Sam. 'I feel it as a wery high
compliment, sir; it's a wery honorable thing to them, as they knows how
to reward merit werever they meets it. Besides which, it's affectin' to
one's feelin's.'

As Mr. Weller said this, he inflicted a little friction on his right
eyelid, with the sleeve of his coat, after the most approved manner of
actors when they are in domestic pathetics.

Mr. Jackson seemed rather puzzled by Sam's proceedings; but, as he had
served the subpoenas, and had nothing more to say, he made a feint of
putting on the one glove which he usually carried in his hand, for the
sake of appearances; and returned to the office to report progress.

Mr. Pickwick slept little that night; his memory had received a very
disagreeable refresher on the subject of Mrs. Bardell's action. He
breakfasted betimes next morning, and, desiring Sam to accompany him,
set forth towards Gray's Inn Square.

'Sam!' said Mr. Pickwick, looking round, when they got to the end of
Cheapside.

'Sir?' said Sam, stepping up to his master.

'Which way?' 'Up Newgate Street.'

Mr. Pickwick did not turn round immediately, but looked vacantly in
Sam's face for a few seconds, and heaved a deep sigh.

'What's the matter, sir?' inquired Sam.

'This action, Sam,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'is expected to come on, on the
fourteenth of next month.' 'Remarkable coincidence that 'ere, sir,'
replied Sam.

'Why remarkable, Sam?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.

'Walentine's day, sir,' responded Sam; 'reg'lar good day for a breach o'
promise trial.'

Mr. Weller's smile awakened no gleam of mirth in his master's
countenance. Mr. Pickwick turned abruptly round, and led the way in
silence.

They had walked some distance, Mr. Pickwick trotting on before, plunged
in profound meditation, and Sam following behind, with a countenance
expressive of the most enviable and easy defiance of everything and
everybody, when the latter, who was always especially anxious to impart
to his master any exclusive information he possessed, quickened his pace
until he was close at Mr. Pickwick's heels; and, pointing up at a house
they were passing, said--

'Wery nice pork-shop that 'ere, sir.'

'Yes, it seems so,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Celebrated sassage factory,' said Sam.

'Is it?' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Is it!' reiterated Sam, with some indignation; 'I should rayther
think it was. Why, sir, bless your innocent eyebrows, that's where the
mysterious disappearance of a 'spectable tradesman took place four years
ago.'

'You don't mean to say he was burked, Sam?' said Mr. Pickwick, looking
hastily round.

'No, I don't indeed, sir,' replied Mr. Weller, 'I wish I did; far worse
than that. He was the master o' that 'ere shop, sir, and the inwentor
o' the patent-never-leavin'-off sassage steam-ingin, as 'ud swaller up a
pavin' stone if you put it too near, and grind it into sassages as easy
as if it was a tender young babby. Wery proud o' that machine he was, as
it was nat'ral he should be, and he'd stand down in the celler a-lookin'
at it wen it was in full play, till he got quite melancholy with joy. A
wery happy man he'd ha' been, Sir, in the procession o' that 'ere ingin
and two more lovely hinfants besides, if it hadn't been for his wife,
who was a most owdacious wixin. She was always a-follerin' him about,
and dinnin' in his ears, till at last he couldn't stand it no longer.
"I'll tell you what it is, my dear," he says one day; "if you persewere
in this here sort of amusement," he says, "I'm blessed if I don't go
away to 'Merriker; and that's all about it." "You're a idle willin,"
says she, "and I wish the 'Merrikins joy of their bargain." Arter which
she keeps on abusin' of him for half an hour, and then runs into the
little parlour behind the shop, sets to a-screamin', says he'll be the
death on her, and falls in a fit, which lasts for three good hours--one
o' them fits wich is all screamin' and kickin'. Well, next mornin', the
husband was missin'. He hadn't taken nothin' from the till--hadn't even
put on his greatcoat--so it was quite clear he warn't gone to 'Merriker.
Didn't come back next day; didn't come back next week; missis had
bills printed, sayin' that, if he'd come back, he should be forgiven
everythin' (which was very liberal, seein' that he hadn't done nothin'
at all); the canals was dragged, and for two months arterwards, wenever
a body turned up, it was carried, as a reg'lar thing, straight off to
the sassage shop. Hows'ever, none on 'em answered; so they gave out
that he'd run away, and she kep' on the bis'ness. One Saturday night, a
little, thin, old gen'l'm'n comes into the shop in a great passion and
says, "Are you the missis o' this here shop?" "Yes, I am," says she.
"Well, ma'am," says he, "then I've just looked in to say that me and
my family ain't a-goin' to be choked for nothin'; and more than that,
ma'am," he says, "you'll allow me to observe that as you don't use the
primest parts of the meat in the manafacter o' sassages, I'd think you'd
find beef come nearly as cheap as buttons." "As buttons, Sir!" says she.
"Buttons, ma'am," says the little, old gentleman, unfolding a bit of
paper, and showin' twenty or thirty halves o' buttons. "Nice seasonin'
for sassages, is trousers' buttons, ma'am." "They're my husband's
buttons!" says the widder beginnin' to faint, "What!" screams the little
old gen'l'm'n, turnin' wery pale. "I see it all," says the widder; "in
a fit of temporary insanity he rashly converted hisself into sassages!"
And so he had, Sir,' said Mr. Weller, looking steadily into Mr.
Pickwick's horror-stricken countenance, 'or else he'd been draw'd into
the ingin; but however that might ha' been, the little, old gen'l'm'n,
who had been remarkably partial to sassages all his life, rushed out o'
the shop in a wild state, and was never heerd on arterwards!'

The relation of this affecting incident of private life brought master
and man to Mr. Perker's chambers. Lowten, holding the door half open,
was in conversation with a rustily-clad, miserable-looking man, in boots
without toes and gloves without fingers. There were traces of privation
and suffering--almost of despair--in his lank and care-worn countenance;
he felt his poverty, for he shrank to the dark side of the staircase as
Mr. Pickwick approached.

'It's very unfortunate,' said the stranger, with a sigh.

'Very,' said Lowten, scribbling his name on the doorpost with his pen,
and rubbing it out again with the feather. 'Will you leave a message for
him?'

'When do you think he'll be back?' inquired the stranger.

'Quite uncertain,' replied Lowten, winking at Mr. Pickwick, as the
stranger cast his eyes towards the ground.

'You don't think it would be of any use my waiting for him?' said the
stranger, looking wistfully into the office.

'Oh, no, I'm sure it wouldn't,' replied the clerk, moving a little more
into the centre of the doorway. 'He's certain not to be back this week,
and it's a chance whether he will be next; for when Perker once gets out
of town, he's never in a hurry to come back again.'

'Out of town!' said Mr. Pickwick; 'dear me, how unfortunate!'

'Don't go away, Mr. Pickwick,' said Lowten, 'I've got a letter for you.'
The stranger, seeming to hesitate, once more looked towards the ground,
and the clerk winked slyly at Mr. PickwiCK, as if to intimate that some
exquisite piece of humour was going forward, though what it was Mr.
Pickwick could not for the life of him divine. 'Step in, Mr. Pickwick,'
said Lowten. 'Well, will you leave a message, Mr. Watty, or will you
call again?'

'Ask him to be so kind as to leave out word what has been done in my
business,' said the man; 'for God's sake don't neglect it, Mr. Lowten.'

'No, no; I won't forget it,' replied the clerk. 'Walk in, Mr. Pickwick.
Good-morning, Mr. Watty; it's a fine day for walking, isn't it?' Seeing
that the stranger still lingered, he beckoned Sam Weller to follow his
master in, and shut the door in his face.

'There never was such a pestering bankrupt as that since the world
began, I do believe!' said Lowten, throwing down his pen with the air of
an injured man. 'His affairs haven't been in Chancery quite four years
yet, and I'm d--d if he don't come worrying here twice a week. Step this
way, Mr. Pickwick. Perker IS in, and he'll see you, I know. Devilish
cold,' he added pettishly, 'standing at that door, wasting one's
time with such seedy vagabonds!' Having very vehemently stirred a
particularly large fire with a particularly small poker, the clerk led
the way to his principal's private room, and announced Mr. Pickwick.

'Ah, my dear Sir,' said little Mr. Perker, bustling up from his chair.
'Well, my dear sir, and what's the news about your matter, eh? Anything
more about our friends in Freeman's Court? They've not been sleeping, I
know that. Ah, they're very smart fellows; very smart, indeed.'

As the little man concluded, he took an emphatic pinch of snuff, as a
tribute to the smartness of Messrs. Dodson and Fogg.

'They are great scoundrels,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Aye, aye,' said the little man; 'that's a matter of opinion, you
know, and we won't dispute about terms; because of course you can't be
expected to view these subjects with a professional eye. Well, we've
done everything that's necessary. I have retained Serjeant Snubbin.'

'Is he a good man?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.

'Good man!' replied Perker; 'bless your heart and soul, my dear Sir,
Serjeant Snubbin is at the very top of his profession. Gets treble the
business of any man in court--engaged in every case. You needn't mention
it abroad; but we say--we of the profession--that Serjeant Snubbin leads
the court by the nose.'

The little man took another pinch of snuff as he made this
communication, and nodded mysteriously to Mr. Pickwick.

'They have subpoenaed my three friends,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'Ah! of course they would,' replied Perker. 'Important witnesses; saw
you in a delicate situation.'

'But she fainted of her own accord,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'She threw
herself into my arms.'

'Very likely, my dear Sir,' replied Perker; 'very likely and very
natural. Nothing more so, my dear Sir, nothing. But who's to prove it?'

'They have subpoenaed my servant, too,' said Mr. Pickwick, quitting the
other point; for there Mr. Perker's question had somewhat staggered him.

'Sam?' said Perker.

Mr. Pickwick replied in the affirmative.

'Of course, my dear Sir; of course. I knew they would. I could have
told you that, a month ago. You know, my dear Sir, if you WILL take the
management of your affairs into your own hands after entrusting them to
your solicitor, you must also take the consequences.' Here Mr. Perker
drew himself up with conscious dignity, and brushed some stray grains of
snuff from his shirt frill.

'And what do they want him to prove?' asked Mr. Pickwick, after two or
three minutes' silence.

'That you sent him up to the plaintiff 's to make some offer of a
compromise, I suppose,' replied Perker. 'It don't matter much, though; I
don't think many counsel could get a great deal out of HIM.'

'I don't think they could,' said Mr. Pickwick, smiling, despite his
vexation, at the idea of Sam's appearance as a witness. 'What course do
we pursue?'

'We have only one to adopt, my dear Sir,' replied Perker; 'cross-examine
the witnesses; trust to Snubbin's eloquence; throw dust in the eyes of
the judge; throw ourselves on the jury.'

'And suppose the verdict is against me?' said Mr. Pickwick.

Mr. Perker smiled, took a very long pinch of snuff, stirred the fire,
shrugged his shoulders, and remained expressively silent.

'You mean that in that case I must pay the damages?' said Mr. Pickwick,
who had watched this telegraphic answer with considerable sternness.

Perker gave the fire another very unnecessary poke, and said, 'I am
afraid so.'

'Then I beg to announce to you my unalterable determination to pay no
damages whatever,' said Mr. Pickwick, most emphatically. 'None, Perker.
Not a pound, not a penny of my money, shall find its way into the
pockets of Dodson and Fogg. That is my deliberate and irrevocable
determination.' Mr. Pickwick gave a heavy blow on the table before him,
in confirmation of the irrevocability of his intention.

'Very well, my dear Sir, very well,' said Perker. 'You know best, of
course.'

'Of course,' replied Mr. Pickwick hastily. 'Where does Serjeant Snubbin
live?' 'In Lincoln's Inn Old Square,' replied Perker.

'I should like to see him,' said Mr. Pickwick.

'See Serjeant Snubbin, my dear Sir!' rejoined Perker, in utter
amazement. 'Pooh, pooh, my dear Sir, impossible. See Serjeant Snubbin!
Bless you, my dear Sir, such a thing was never heard of, without a
consultation fee being previously paid, and a consultation fixed. It
couldn't be done, my dear Sir; it couldn't be done.'

Mr. Pickwick, however, had made up his mind not only that it could be
done, but that it should be done; and the consequence was, that within
ten minutes after he had received the assurance that the thing was
impossible, he was conducted by his solicitor into the outer office of
the great Serjeant Snubbin himself.

It was an uncarpeted room of tolerable dimensions, with a large
writing-table drawn up near the fire, the baize top of which had long
since lost all claim to its original hue of green, and had gradually
grown gray with dust and age, except where all traces of its natural
colour were obliterated by ink-stains. Upon the table were numerous
little bundles of papers tied with red tape; and behind it, sat an
elderly clerk, whose sleek appearance and heavy gold watch-chain
presented imposing indications of the extensive and lucrative practice
of Mr. Serjeant Snubbin.

'Is the Serjeant in his room, Mr. Mallard?' inquired Perker, offering
his box with all imaginable courtesy.

'Yes, he is,' was the reply, 'but he's very busy. Look here; not an
opinion given yet, on any one of these cases; and an expedition fee
paid with all of 'em.' The clerk smiled as he said this, and inhaled the
pinch of snuff with a zest which seemed to be compounded of a fondness
for snuff and a relish for fees.

'Something like practice that,' said Perker.

'Yes,' said the barrister's clerk, producing his own box, and offering
it with the greatest cordiality; 'and the best of it is, that as nobody
alive except myself can read the serjeant's writing, they are obliged to
wait for the opinions, when he has given them, till I have copied 'em,
ha-ha-ha!'

'Which makes good for we know who, besides the serjeant, and draws a
little more out of the clients, eh?' said Perker; 'ha, ha, ha!' At this
the serjeant's clerk laughed again--not a noisy boisterous laugh, but
a silent, internal chuckle, which Mr. Pickwick disliked to hear. When
a man bleeds inwardly, it is a dangerous thing for himself; but when he
laughs inwardly, it bodes no good to other people.

'You haven't made me out that little list of the fees that I'm in your
debt, have you?' said Perker.

'No, I have not,' replied the clerk.

'I wish you would,' said Perker. 'Let me have them, and I'll send you
a cheque. But I suppose you're too busy pocketing the ready money, to
think of the debtors, eh? ha, ha, ha!' This sally seemed to tickle
the clerk amazingly, and he once more enjoyed a little quiet laugh to
himself.

'But, Mr. Mallard, my dear friend,' said Perker, suddenly recovering
his gravity, and drawing the great man's great man into a Corner, by the
lappel of his coat; 'you must persuade the Serjeant to see me, and my
client here.'

'Come, come,' said the clerk, 'that's not bad either. See the Serjeant!
come, that's too absurd.' Notwithstanding the absurdity of the proposal,
however, the clerk allowed himself to be gently drawn beyond the hearing
of Mr. Pickwick; and after a short conversation conducted in whispers,
walked softly down a little dark passage, and disappeared into the legal
luminary's sanctum, whence he shortly returned on tiptoe, and informed
Mr. Perker and Mr. Pickwick that the Serjeant had been prevailed upon,
in violation of all established rules and customs, to admit them at
once.

Mr. Serjeant Snubbins was a lantern-faced, sallow-complexioned man, of
about five-and-forty, or--as the novels say--he might be fifty. He had
that dull-looking, boiled eye which is often to be seen in the heads
of people who have applied themselves during many years to a weary and
laborious course of study; and which would have been sufficient, without
the additional eyeglass which dangled from a broad black riband round
his neck, to warn a stranger that he was very near-sighted. His hair was
thin and weak, which was partly attributable to his having never
devoted much time to its arrangement, and partly to his having worn for
five-and-twenty years the forensic wig which hung on a block beside him.
The marks of hairpowder on his coat-collar, and the ill-washed and worse
tied white neckerchief round his throat, showed that he had not found
leisure since he left the court to make any alteration in his dress;
while the slovenly style of the remainder of his costume warranted the
inference that his personal appearance would not have been very much
improved if he had. Books of practice, heaps of papers, and opened
letters, were scattered over the table, without any attempt at order or
arrangement; the furniture of the room was old and rickety; the doors of
the book-case were rotting in their hinges; the dust flew out from the
carpet in little clouds at every step; the blinds were yellow with age
and dirt; the state of everything in the room showed, with a clearness
not to be mistaken, that Mr. Serjeant Snubbin was far too much occupied
with his professional pursuits to take any great heed or regard of his
personal comforts.

The Serjeant was writing when his clients entered; he bowed abstractedly
when Mr. Pickwick was introduced by his solicitor; and then, motioning
them to a seat, put his pen carefully in the inkstand, nursed his left
leg, and waited to be spoken to.

'Mr. Pickwick is the defendant in Bardell and Pickwick, Serjeant
Snubbin,' said Perker.

'I am retained in that, am I?' said the Serjeant.

'You are, Sir,' replied Perker.

The Serjeant nodded his head, and waited for something else.

'Mr. Pickwick was anxious to call upon you, Serjeant Snubbin,' said
Perker, 'to state to you, before you entered upon the case, that he
denies there being any ground or pretence whatever for the action
against him; and that unless he came into court with clean hands, and
without the most conscientious conviction that he was right in resisting
the plaintiff's demand, he would not be there at all. I believe I state
your views correctly; do I not, my dear Sir?' said the little man,
turning to Mr. Pickwick.

'Quite so,' replied that gentleman.

Mr. Serjeant Snubbin unfolded his glasses, raised them to his eyes; and,
after looking at Mr. Pickwick for a few seconds with great curiosity,
turned to Mr. Perker, and said, smiling slightly as he spoke--'Has Mr.
Pickwick a strong case?'

The attorney shrugged his shoulders.

'Do you propose calling witnesses?'

'No.'

The smile on the Serjeant's countenance became more defined; he rocked
his leg with increased violence; and, throwing himself back in his
easy-chair, coughed dubiously.

These tokens of the Serjeant's presentiments on the subject, slight as
they were, were not lost on Mr. Pickwick. He settled the spectacles,
through which he had attentively regarded such demonstrations of the
barrister's feelings as he had permitted himself to exhibit, more firmly
on his nose; and said with great energy, and in utter disregard of all
Mr. Perker's admonitory winkings and frownings--

'My wishing to wait upon you, for such a purpose as this, Sir, appears,
I have no doubt, to a gentleman who sees so much of these matters as you
must necessarily do, a very extraordinary circumstance.'

The Serjeant tried to look gravely at the fire, but the smile came back
again.

'Gentlemen of your profession, Sir,' continued Mr. Pickwick, 'see the
worst side of human nature. All its disputes, all its ill-will and bad
blood, rise up before you. You know from your experience of juries (I
mean no disparagement to you, or them) how much depends upon effect;
and you are apt to attribute to others, a desire to use, for purposes
of deception and Self-interest, the very instruments which you, in pure
honesty and honour of purpose, and with a laudable desire to do your
utmost for your client, know the temper and worth of so well, from
constantly employing them yourselves. I really believe that to this
circumstance may be attributed the vulgar but very general notion of
your being, as a body, suspicious, distrustful, and over-cautious.
Conscious as I am, sir, of the disadvantage of making such a declaration
to you, under such circumstances, I have come here, because I wish you
distinctly to understand, as my friend Mr. Perker has said, that I am
innocent of the falsehood laid to my charge; and although I am very well
aware of the inestimable value of your assistance, Sir, I must beg to
add, that unless you sincerely believe this, I would rather be deprived
of the aid of your talents than have the advantage of them.'

Long before the close of this address, which we are bound to say was of
a very prosy character for Mr. Pickwick, the Serjeant had relapsed into
a state of abstraction. After some minutes, however, during which he had
reassumed his pen, he appeared to be again aware of the presence of his
clients; raising his head from the paper, he said, rather snappishly--

'Who is with me in this case?'

'Mr. Phunky, Serjeant Snubbin,' replied the attorney.

'Phunky--Phunky,' said the Serjeant, 'I never heard the name before. He
must be a very young man.'

'Yes, he is a very young man,' replied the attorney. 'He was only called
the other day. Let me see--he has not been at the Bar eight years yet.'

'Ah, I thought not,' said the Serjeant, in that sort of pitying tone in
which ordinary folks would speak of a very helpless little child. 'Mr.
Mallard, send round to Mr.--Mr.--' 'Phunky's--Holborn Court, Gray's
Inn,' interposed Perker. (Holborn Court, by the bye, is South Square
now.) 'Mr. Phunky, and say I should be glad if he'd step here, a
moment.'

Mr. Mallard departed to execute his commission; and Serjeant Snubbin
relapsed into abstraction until Mr. Phunky himself was introduced.

Although an infant barrister, he was a full-grown man. He had a very
nervous manner, and a painful hesitation in his speech; it did not
appear to be a natural defect, but seemed rather the result of timidity,
arising from the consciousness of being 'kept down' by want of means,
or interest, or connection, or impudence, as the case might be. He was
overawed by the Serjeant, and profoundly courteous to the attorney.

'I have not had the pleasure of seeing you before, Mr. Phunky,' said
Serjeant Snubbin, with haughty condescension.

Mr. Phunky bowed. He HAD had the pleasure of seeing the Serjeant, and
of envying him too, with all a poor man's envy, for eight years and a
quarter.

'You are with me in this case, I understand?' said the Serjeant.

If Mr. Phunky had been a rich man, he would have instantly sent for his
clerk to remind him; if he had been a wise one, he would have applied
his forefinger to his forehead, and endeavoured to recollect, whether,
in the multiplicity of his engagements, he had undertaken this one or
not; but as he was neither rich nor wise (in this sense, at all events)
he turned red, and bowed.

'Have you read the papers, Mr. Phunky?' inquired the Serjeant.

Here again, Mr. Phunky should have professed to have forgotten all about
the merits of the case; but as he had read such papers as had been laid
before him in the course of the action, and had thought of nothing else,
waking or sleeping, throughout the two months during which he had been
retained as Mr. Serjeant Snubbin's junior, he turned a deeper red and
bowed again.

'This is Mr. Pickwick,' said the Serjeant, waving his pen in the
direction in which that gentleman was standing.

Mr. Phunky bowed to Mr. Pickwick, with a reverence which a first client
must ever awaken; and again inclined his head towards his leader.

'Perhaps you will take Mr. Pickwick away,' said the Serjeant,
'and--and--and--hear anything Mr. Pickwick may wish to communicate. We
shall have a consultation, of course.' With that hint that he had
been interrupted quite long enough, Mr. Serjeant Snubbin, who had been
gradually growing more and more abstracted, applied his glass to his
eyes for an instant, bowed slightly round, and was once more deeply
immersed in the case before him, which arose out of an interminable
lawsuit, originating in the act of an individual, deceased a century
or so ago, who had stopped up a pathway leading from some place which
nobody ever came from, to some other place which nobody ever went to.

Mr. Phunky would not hear of passing through any door until Mr. Pickwick
and his solicitor had passed through before him, so it was some time
before they got into the Square; and when they did reach it, they walked
up and down, and held a long conference, the result of which was, that
it was a very difficult matter to say how the verdict would go; that
nobody could presume to calculate on the issue of an action; that it
was very lucky they had prevented the other party from getting Serjeant
Snubbin; and other topics of doubt and consolation, common in such a
position of affairs.

Mr. Weller was then roused by his master from a sweet sleep of an hour's
duration; and, bidding adieu to Lowten, they returned to the city.



CHAPTER XXXII. DESCRIBES, FAR MORE FULLY THAN THE COURT NEWSMAN EVER
DID, A BACHELOR'S PARTY, GIVEN BY Mr. BOB SAWYER AT HIS LODGINGS IN THE
BOROUGH


There is a repose about Lant Street, in the Borough, which sheds a
gentle melancholy upon the soul. There are always a good many houses to
let in the street: it is a by-street too, and its dulness is soothing.
A house in Lant Street would not come within the denomination of a
first-rate residence, in the strict acceptation of the term; but it is
a most desirable spot nevertheless. If a man wished to abstract
himself from the world--to remove himself from within the reach of
temptation--to place himself beyond the possibility of any inducement to
look out of the window--we should recommend him by all means go to Lant
Street.

In this happy retreat are colonised a few clear-starchers, a sprinkling
of journeymen bookbinders, one or two prison agents for the Insolvent
Court, several small housekeepers who are employed in the Docks, a
handful of mantua-makers, and a seasoning of jobbing tailors. The
majority of the inhabitants either direct their energies to the letting
of furnished apartments, or devote themselves to the healthful and
invigorating pursuit of mangling. The chief features in the still life
of the street are green shutters, lodging-bills, brass door-plates, and
bell-handles; the principal specimens of animated nature, the pot-boy,
the muffin youth, and the baked-potato man. The population is migratory,
usually disappearing on the verge of quarter-day, and generally by
night. His Majesty's revenues are seldom collected in this happy valley;
the rents are dubious; and the water communication is very frequently
cut off.

Mr. Bob Sawyer embellished one side of the fire, in his first-floor
front, early on the evening for which he had invited Mr. Pickwick, and
Mr. Ben Allen the other. The preparations for the reception of visitors
appeared to be completed. The umbrellas in the passage had been heaped
into the little corner outside the back-parlour door; the bonnet and
shawl of the landlady's servant had been removed from the bannisters;
there were not more than two pairs of pattens on the street-door mat;
and a kitchen candle, with a very long snuff, burned cheerfully on the
ledge of the staircase window. Mr. Bob Sawyer had himself purchased the
spirits at a wine vaults in High Street, and had returned home preceding
the bearer thereof, to preclude the possibility of their delivery at
the wrong house. The punch was ready-made in a red pan in the bedroom;
a little table, covered with a green baize cloth, had been borrowed from
the parlour, to play at cards on; and the glasses of the establishment,
together with those which had been borrowed for the occasion from the
public-house, were all drawn up in a tray, which was deposited on the
landing outside the door.

Notwithstanding the highly satisfactory nature of all these
arrangements, there was a cloud on the countenance of Mr. Bob Sawyer, as
he sat by the fireside. There was a sympathising expression, too, in the
features of Mr. Ben Allen, as he gazed intently on the coals, and a tone
of melancholy in his voice, as he said, after a long silence--'Well, it
is unlucky she should have taken it in her head to turn sour, just on
this occasion. She might at least have waited till to-morrow.'

'That's her malevolence--that's her malevolence,' returned Mr. Bob
Sawyer vehemently. 'She says that if I can afford to give a party I
ought to be able to pay her confounded "little bill."' 'How long has it
been running?' inquired Mr. Ben Allen. A bill, by the bye, is the most
extraordinary locomotive engine that the genius of man ever produced.
It would keep on running during the longest lifetime, without ever once
stopping of its own accord.

'Only a quarter, and a month or so,' replied Mr. Bob Sawyer.

Ben Allen coughed hopelessly, and directed a searching look between the
two top bars of the stove.

'It'll be a deuced unpleasant thing if she takes it into her head to
let out, when those fellows are here, won't it?' said Mr. Ben Allen at
length.

'Horrible,' replied Bob Sawyer, 'horrible.' A low tap was heard at the
room door. Mr. Bob Sawyer looked expressively at his friend, and bade
the tapper come in; whereupon a dirty, slipshod girl in black cotton
stockings, who might have passed for the neglected daughter of a
superannuated dustman in very reduced circumstances, thrust in her head,
and said--

'Please, Mister Sawyer, Missis Raddle wants to speak to you.'

Before Mr. Bob Sawyer could return any answer, the girl suddenly
disappeared with a jerk, as if somebody had given her a violent pull
behind; this mysterious exit was no sooner accomplished, than there
was another tap at the door--a smart, pointed tap, which seemed to say,
'Here I am, and in I'm coming.'

Mr. Bob Sawyer glanced at his friend with a look of abject apprehension,
and once more cried, 'Come in.'

The permission was not at all necessary, for, before Mr. Bob Sawyer had
uttered the words, a little, fierce woman bounced into the room, all in
a tremble with passion, and pale with rage.

'Now, Mr. Sawyer,' said the little, fierce woman, trying to appear very
calm, 'if you'll have the kindness to settle that little bill of mine
I'll thank you, because I've got my rent to pay this afternoon, and my
landlord's a-waiting below now.' Here the little woman rubbed her hands,
and looked steadily over Mr. Bob Sawyer's head, at the wall behind him.

'I am very sorry to put you to any inconvenience, Mrs. Raddle,' said Bob
Sawyer deferentially, 'but--'

'Oh, it isn't any inconvenience,' replied the little woman, with a
shrill titter. 'I didn't want it particular before to-day; leastways, as
it has to go to my landlord directly, it was as well for you to keep it
as me. You promised me this afternoon, Mr. Sawyer, and every gentleman
as has ever lived here, has kept his word, Sir, as of course anybody as
calls himself a gentleman does.' Mrs. Raddle tossed her head, bit her
lips, rubbed her hands harder, and looked at the wall more steadily
than ever. It was plain to see, as Mr. Bob Sawyer remarked in a style
of Eastern allegory on a subsequent occasion, that she was 'getting the
steam up.'

'I am very sorry, Mrs. Raddle,' said Bob Sawyer, with all imaginable
humility, 'but the fact is, that I have been disappointed in the City
to-day.'--Extraordinary place that City. An astonishing number of men
always ARE getting disappointed there.

'Well, Mr. Sawyer,' said Mrs. Raddle, planting herself firmly on a
purple cauliflower in the Kidderminster carpet, 'and what's that to me,
Sir?'

'I--I--have no doubt, Mrs. Raddle,' said Bob Sawyer, blinking this last
question, 'that before the middle of next week we shall be able to set
ourselves quite square, and go on, on a better system, afterwards.'

This was all Mrs. Raddle wanted. She had bustled up to the apartment of
the unlucky Bob Sawyer, so bent upon going into a passion, that, in all
probability, payment would have rather disappointed her than otherwise.
She was in excellent order for a little relaxation of the kind, having
just exchanged a few introductory compliments with Mr. R. in the front
kitchen.

'Do you suppose, Mr. Sawyer,' said Mrs. Raddle, elevating her voice for
the information of the neighbours--'do you suppose that I'm a-going day
after day to let a fellar occupy my lodgings as never thinks of paying
his rent, nor even the very money laid out for the fresh butter and lump
sugar that's bought for his breakfast, and the very milk that's took in,
at the street door? Do you suppose a hard-working and industrious woman
as has lived in this street for twenty year (ten year over the way, and
nine year and three-quarters in this very house) has nothing else to do
but to work herself to death after a parcel of lazy idle fellars, that
are always smoking and drinking, and lounging, when they ought to be
glad to turn their hands to anything that would help 'em to pay their
bills? Do you--'

'My good soul,' interposed Mr. Benjamin Allen soothingly.

'Have the goodness to keep your observashuns to yourself, Sir, I beg,'
said Mrs. Raddle, suddenly arresting the rapid torrent of her speech,
and addressing the third party with impressive slowness and solemnity.
'I am not aweer, Sir, that you have any right to address your
conversation to me. I don't think I let these apartments to you, Sir.'

'No, you certainly did not,' said Mr. Benjamin Allen.

'Very good, Sir,' responded Mrs. Raddle, with lofty politeness. 'Then
p'raps, Sir, you'll confine yourself to breaking the arms and legs of
the poor people in the hospitals, and keep yourself TO yourself, Sir, or
there may be some persons here as will make you, Sir.'

'But you are such an unreasonable woman,' remonstrated Mr. Benjamin
Allen.

'I beg your parding, young man,' said Mrs. Raddle, in a cold
perspiration of anger. 'But will you have the goodness just to call me
that again, sir?'

'I didn't make use of the word in any invidious sense, ma'am,' replied
Mr. Benjamin Allen, growing somewhat uneasy on his own account.

'I beg your parding, young man,' demanded Mrs. Raddle, in a louder and
more imperative tone. 'But who do you call a woman? Did you make that
remark to me, sir?'

'Why, bless my heart!' said Mr. Benjamin Allen.

'Did you apply that name to me, I ask of you, sir?' interrupted Mrs.
Raddle, with intense fierceness, throwing the door wide open.

'Why, of course I did,' replied Mr. Benjamin Allen.

'Yes, of course you did,' said Mrs. Raddle, backing gradually to the
door, and raising her voice to its loudest pitch, for the special behoof
of Mr. Raddle in the kitchen. 'Yes, of course you did! And everybody
knows that they may safely insult me in my own 'ouse while my husband
sits sleeping downstairs, and taking no more notice than if I was a
dog in the streets. He ought to be ashamed of himself (here Mrs. Raddle
sobbed) to allow his wife to be treated in this way by a parcel of young
cutters and carvers of live people's bodies, that disgraces the lodgings
(another sob), and leaving her exposed to all manner of abuse; a base,
faint-hearted, timorous wretch, that's afraid to come upstairs, and
face the ruffinly creatures--that's afraid--that's afraid to come!' Mrs.
Raddle paused to listen whether the repetition of the taunt had roused
her better half; and finding that it had not been successful, proceeded
to descend the stairs with sobs innumerable; when there came a loud
double knock at the street door; whereupon she burst into an hysterical
fit of weeping, accompanied with dismal moans, which was prolonged until
the knock had been repeated six times, when, in an uncontrollable burst
of mental agony, she threw down all the umbrellas, and disappeared into
the back parlour, closing the door after her with an awful crash.

'Does Mr. Sawyer live here?' said Mr. Pickwick, when the door was
opened.

'Yes,' said the girl, 'first floor. It's the door straight afore you,
when you gets to the top of the stairs.' Having given this instruction,
the handmaid, who had been brought up among the aboriginal inhabitants
of Southwark, disappeared, with the candle in her hand, down the kitchen
stairs, perfectly satisfied that she had done everything that could
possibly be required of her under the circumstances.

Mr. Snodgrass, who entered last, secured the street door, after several
ineffectual efforts, by putting up the chain; and the friends stumbled
upstairs, where they were received by Mr. Bob Sawyer, who had been
afraid to go down, lest he should be waylaid by Mrs. Raddle.

'How are you?' said the discomfited student. 'Glad to see you--take care
of the glasses.' This caution was addressed to Mr. Pickwick, who had put
his hat in the tray.

'Dear me,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'I beg your pardon.'

'Don't mention it, don't mention it,' said Bob Sawyer. 'I'm rather
confined for room here, but you must put up with all that, when you come
to see a young bachelor. Walk in. You've seen this gentleman before,
I think?' Mr. Pickwick shook hands with Mr. Benjamin Allen, and his
friends followed his example. They had scarcely taken their seats when
there was another double knock.

'I hope that's Jack Hopkins!' said Mr. Bob Sawyer. 'Hush. Yes, it is.
Come up, Jack; come up.'

A heavy footstep was heard upon the stairs, and Jack Hopkins presented
himself. He wore a black velvet waistcoat, with thunder-and-lightning
buttons; and a blue striped shirt, with a white false collar.

'You're late, Jack?' said Mr. Benjamin Allen.

'Been detained at Bartholomew's,' replied Hopkins.

'Anything new?'

'No, nothing particular. Rather a good accident brought into the
casualty ward.'

'What was that, sir?' inquired Mr. Pickwick.

'Only a man fallen out of a four pair of stairs' window; but it's a very
fair case indeed.'

'Do you mean that the patient is in a fair way to recover?' inquired Mr.
Pickwick. 'No,' replied Mr. Hopkins carelessly. 'No, I should rather
say he wouldn't. There must be a splendid operation, though,
to-morrow--magnificent sight if Slasher does it.'

'You consider Mr. Slasher a good operator?' said Mr. Pickwick. 'Best
alive,' replied Hopkins. 'Took a boy's leg out of the socket last
week--boy ate five apples and a gingerbread cake--exactly two minutes
after it was all over, boy said he wouldn't lie there to be made game
of, and he'd tell his mother if they didn't begin.'

'Dear me!' said Mr. Pickwick, astonished.

'Pooh! That's nothing, that ain't,' said Jack Hopkins. 'Is it, Bob?'

'Nothing at all,' replied Mr. Bob Sawyer.

'By the bye, Bob,' said Hopkins, with a scarcely perceptible glance at
Mr. Pickwick's attentive face, 'we had a curious accident last night. A
child was brought in, who had swallowed a necklace.'

'Swallowed what, Sir?' interrupted Mr. Pickwick. 'A necklace,' replied
Jack Hopkins. 'Not all at once, you know, that would be too much--you
couldn't swallow that, if the child did--eh, Mr. Pickwick? ha, ha!'
Mr. Hopkins appeared highly gratified with his own pleasantry, and
continued--'No, the way was this. Child's parents were poor people
who lived in a court. Child's eldest sister bought a necklace--common
necklace, made of large black wooden beads. Child being fond of toys,
cribbed the necklace, hid it, played with it, cut the string, and
swallowed a bead. Child thought it capital fun, went back next day, and
swallowed another bead.'

'Bless my heart,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'what a dreadful thing! I beg your
pardon, Sir. Go on.'

'Next day, child swallowed two beads; the day after that, he treated
himself to three, and so on, till in a week's time he had got through
the necklace--five-and-twenty beads in all. The sister, who was an
industrious girl, and seldom treated herself to a bit of finery, cried
her eyes out, at the loss of the necklace; looked high and low for it;
but, I needn't say, didn't find it. A few days afterwards, the family
were at dinner--baked shoulder of mutton, and potatoes under it--the
child, who wasn't hungry, was playing about the room, when suddenly
there was heard a devil of a noise, like a small hailstorm. "Don't do
that, my boy," said the father. "I ain't a-doin' nothing," said the
child. "Well, don't do it again," said the father. There was a short
silence, and then the noise began again, worse than ever. "If you don't
mind what I say, my boy," said the father, "you'll find yourself in bed,
in something less than a pig's whisper." He gave the child a shake
to make him obedient, and such a rattling ensued as nobody ever heard
before. "Why, damme, it's IN the child!" said the father, "he's got
the croup in the wrong place!" "No, I haven't, father," said the child,
beginning to cry, "it's the necklace; I swallowed it, father."--The
father caught the child up, and ran with him to the hospital; the beads
in the boy's stomach rattling all the way with the jolting; and the
people looking up in the air, and down in the cellars, to see where the
unusual sound came from. He's in the hospital now,' said Jack Hopkins,
'and he makes such a devil of a noise when he walks about, that they're
obliged to muffle him in a watchman's coat, for fear he should wake the
patients.'

'That's the most extraordinary case I ever heard of,' said Mr. Pickwick,
with an emphatic blow on the table.

'Oh, that's nothing,' said Jack Hopkins. 'Is it, Bob?'

'Certainly not,' replied Bob Sawyer.

'Very singular things occur in our profession, I can assure you, Sir,'
said Hopkins.

'So I should be disposed to imagine,' replied Mr. Pickwick.

Another knock at the door announced a large-headed young man in a black
wig, who brought with him a scorbutic youth in a long stock. The next
comer was a gentleman in a shirt emblazoned with pink anchors, who was
closely followed by a pale youth with a plated watchguard. The arrival
of a prim personage in clean linen and cloth boots rendered the party
complete. The little table with the green baize cover was wheeled out;
the first instalment of punch was brought in, in a white jug; and the
succeeding three hours were devoted to VINGT-ET-UN at sixpence a
dozen, which was only once interrupted by a slight dispute between the
scorbutic youth and the gentleman with the pink anchors; in the course
of which, the scorbutic youth intimated a burning desire to pull the
nose of the gentleman with the emblems of hope; in reply to which, that
individual expressed his decided unwillingness to accept of any 'sauce'
on gratuitous terms, either from the irascible young gentleman with the
scorbutic countenance, or any other person who was ornamented with a
head.

When the last 'natural' had been declared, and the profit and loss
account of fish and sixpences adjusted, to the satisfaction of all
parties, Mr. Bob Sawyer rang for supper, and the visitors squeezed
themselves into corners while it was getting ready.

it was not so easily got ready as some people may imagine. First of all,
it was necessary to awaken the girl, who had fallen asleep with her face
on the kitchen table; this took a little time, and, even when she did
answer the bell, another quarter of an hour was consumed in fruitless
endeavours to impart to her a faint and distant glimmering of reason.
The man to whom the order for the oysters had been sent, had not been
told to open them; it is a very difficult thing to open an oyster with a
limp knife and a two-pronged fork; and very little was done in this way.
Very little of the beef was done either; and the ham (which was
also from the German-sausage shop round the corner) was in a similar
predicament. However, there was plenty of porter in a tin can; and the
cheese went a great way, for it was very strong. So upon the whole,
perhaps, the supper was quite as good as such matters usually are.

After supper, another jug of punch was put upon the table, together with
a paper of cigars, and a couple of bottles of spirits. Then there was
an awful pause; and this awful pause was occasioned by a very
common occurrence in this sort of place, but a very embarrassing one
notwithstanding.

The fact is, the girl was washing the glasses. The establishment boasted
four: we do not record the circumstance as at all derogatory to Mrs.
Raddle, for there never was a lodging-house yet, that was not short of
glasses. The landlady's glasses were little, thin, blown-glass tumblers,
and those which had been borrowed from the public-house were great,
dropsical, bloated articles, each supported on a huge gouty leg. This
would have been in itself sufficient to have possessed the company with
the real state of affairs; but the young woman of all work had prevented
the possibility of any misconception arising in the mind of any
gentleman upon the subject, by forcibly dragging every man's glass away,
long before he had finished his beer, and audibly stating, despite the
winks and interruptions of Mr. Bob Sawyer, that it was to be conveyed
downstairs, and washed forthwith.

It is a very ill wind that blows nobody any good. The prim man in the
cloth boots, who had been unsuccessfully attempting to make a joke
during the whole time the round game lasted, saw his opportunity, and
availed himself of it. The instant the glasses disappeared, he
commenced a long story about a great public character, whose name he
had forgotten, making a particularly happy reply to another eminent
and illustrious individual whom he had never been able to identify. He
enlarged at some length and with great minuteness upon divers collateral
circumstances, distantly connected with the anecdote in hand, but for
the life of him he couldn't recollect at that precise moment what the
anecdote was, although he had been in the habit of telling the story
with great applause for the last ten years.

'Dear me,' said the prim man in the cloth boots, 'it is a very
extraordinary circumstance.'

'I am sorry you have forgotten it,' said Mr. Bob Sawyer, glancing
eagerly at the door, as he thought he heard the noise of glasses
jingling; 'very sorry.'

'So am I,' responded the prim man, 'because I know it would have
afforded so much amusement. Never mind; I dare say I shall manage to
recollect it, in the course of half an hour or so.'

The prim man arrived at this point just as the glasses came back, when
Mr. Bob Sawyer, who had been absorbed in attention during the whole
time, said he should very much like to hear the end of it, for, so far
as it went, it was, without exception, the very best story he had ever
heard. The sight of the tumblers restored Bob Sawyer to a degree of
equanimity which he had not possessed since his interview with his
landlady. His face brightened up, and he began to feel quite convivial.

'Now, Betsy,' said Mr. Bob Sawyer, with great suavity, and dispersing,
at the same time, the tumultuous little mob of glasses the girl had
collected in the centre of the table--'now, Betsy, the warm water; be
brisk, there's a good girl.'

'You can't have no warm water,' replied Betsy.

'No warm water!' exclaimed Mr. Bob Sawyer.

'No,' said the girl, with a shake of the head which expressed a more
decided negative than the most copious language could have conveyed.
'Missis Raddle said you warn't to have none.'

The surprise depicted on the countenances of his guests imparted new
courage to the host.

'Bring up the warm water instantly--instantly!' said Mr. Bob Sawyer,
with desperate sternness.

'No. I can't,' replied the girl; 'Missis Raddle raked out the kitchen
fire afore she went to bed, and locked up the kittle.'

'Oh, never mind; never mind. Pray don't disturb yourself about such
a trifle,' said Mr. Pickwick, observing the conflict of Bob Sawyer's
passions, as depicted in his countenance, 'cold water will do very
well.'

'Oh, admirably,' said Mr. Benjamin Allen.

'My landlady is subject to some slight attacks of mental derangement,'
remarked Bob Sawyer, with a ghastly smile; 'I fear I must give her
warning.'

'No, don't,' said Ben Allen.

'I fear I must,' said Bob, with heroic firmness. 'I'll pay her what
I owe her, and give her warning to-morrow morning.' Poor fellow! how
devoutly he wished he could!

Mr. Bob Sawyer's heart-sickening attempts to rally under this last blow,
communicated a dispiriting influence to the company, the greater part of
whom, with the view of raising their spirits, attached themselves with
extra cordiality to the cold brandy-and-water, the first perceptible
effects of which were displayed in a renewal of hostilities between the
scorbutic youth and the gentleman in the shirt. The belligerents vented
their feelings of mutual contempt, for some time, in a variety of
frownings and snortings, until at last the scorbutic youth felt it
necessary to come to a more explicit understanding on the matter;
when the following clear understanding took place. 'Sawyer,' said the
scorbutic youth, in a loud voice.

'Well, Noddy,' replied Mr. Bob Sawyer.

'I should be very sorry, Sawyer,' said Mr. Noddy, 'to create any
unpleasantness at any friend's table, and much less at yours,
Sawyer--very; but I must take this opportunity of informing Mr. Gunter
that he is no gentleman.'

'And I should be very sorry, Sawyer, to create any disturbance in the
street in which you reside,' said Mr. Gunter, 'but I'm afraid I shall
be under the necessity of alarming the neighbours by throwing the person
who has just spoken, out o' window.'

'What do you mean by that, sir?' inquired Mr. Noddy.

'What I say, Sir,' replied Mr. Gunter.

'I should like to see you do it, Sir,' said Mr. Noddy.

'You shall FEEL me do it in half a minute, Sir,' replied Mr. Gunter.

'I request that you'll favour me with your card, Sir,' said Mr. Noddy.

'I'll do nothing of the kind, Sir,' replied Mr. Gunter.

'Why not, Sir?' inquired Mr. Noddy.

'Because you'll stick it up over your chimney-piece, and delude your
visitors into the false belief that a gentleman has been to see you,
Sir,' replied Mr. Gunter.

'Sir, a friend of mine shall wait on you in the morning,' said Mr.
Noddy.

'Sir, I'm very much obliged to you for the caution, and I'll leave
particular directions with the servant to lock up the spoons,' replied
Mr. Gunter.

At this point the remainder of the guests interposed, and remonstrated
with both parties on the impropriety of their conduct; on which Mr.
Noddy begged to state that his father was quite as respectable as Mr.
Gunter's father; to which Mr. Gunter replied that his father was to the
full as respectable as Mr. Noddy's father, and that his father's son was
as good a man as Mr. Noddy, any day in the week. As this announcement
seemed the prelude to a recommencement of the dispute, there was another
interference on the part of the company; and a vast quantity of talking
and clamouring ensued, in the course of which Mr. Noddy gradually
allowed his feelings to overpower him, and professed that he had ever
entertained a devoted personal attachment towards Mr. Gunter. To this
Mr. Gunter replied that, upon the whole, he rather preferred Mr. Noddy
to his own brother; on hearing which admission, Mr. Noddy magnanimously
rose from his seat, and proffered his hand to Mr. Gunter. Mr. Gunter
grasped it with affecting fervour; and everybody said that the whole
dispute had been conducted in a manner which was highly honourable to
both parties concerned.

'Now,' said Jack Hopkins, 'just to set us going again, Bob, I don't mind
singing a song.' And Hopkins, incited thereto by tumultuous applause,
plunged himself at once into 'The King, God bless him,' which he sang as
loud as he could, to a novel air, compounded of the 'Bay of Biscay,' and
'A Frog he would.' The chorus was the essence of the song; and, as each
gentleman sang it to the tune he knew best, the effect was very striking
indeed.

It was at the end of the chorus to the first verse, that Mr. Pickwick
held up his hand in a listening attitude, and said, as soon as silence
was restored--

'Hush! I beg your pardon. I thought I heard somebody calling from
upstairs.'

A profound silence immediately ensued; and Mr. Bob Sawyer was observed
to turn pale.

'I think I hear it now,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'Have the goodness to open
the door.'

The door was no sooner opened than all doubt on the subject was removed.

'Mr. Sawyer! Mr. Sawyer!' screamed a voice from the two-pair landing.

'It's my landlady,' said Bob Sawyer, looking round him with great
dismay. 'Yes, Mrs. Raddle.'

'What do you mean by this, Mr. Sawyer?' replied the voice, with great
shrillness and rapidity of utterance. 'Ain't it enough to be swindled
out of one's rent, and money lent out of pocket besides, and abused
and insulted by your friends that dares to call themselves men, without
having the house turned out of the window, and noise enough made to
bring the fire-engines here, at two o'clock in the morning?--Turn them
wretches away.'

'You ought to be ashamed of yourselves,' said the voice of Mr. Raddle,
which appeared to proceed from beneath some distant bed-clothes.

'Ashamed of themselves!' said Mrs. Raddle. 'Why don't you go down and
knock 'em every one downstairs? You would if you was a man.' 'I should
if I was a dozen men, my dear,' replied Mr. Raddle pacifically, 'but
they have the advantage of me in numbers, my dear.'

'Ugh, you coward!' replied Mrs. Raddle, with supreme contempt. 'DO you
mean to turn them wretches out, or not, Mr. Sawyer?'

'They're going, Mrs. Raddle, they're going,' said the miserable Bob.
'I am afraid you'd better go,' said Mr. Bob Sawyer to his friends. 'I
thought you were making too much noise.'

'It's a very unfortunate thing,' said the prim man. 'Just as we were
getting so comfortable too!' The prim man was just beginning to have a
dawning recollection of the story he had forgotten.

'It's hardly to be borne,' said the prim man, looking round. 'Hardly to
be borne, is it?'

'Not to be endured,' replied Jack Hopkins; 'let's have the other verse,
Bob. Come, here goes!'

'No, no, Jack, don't,' interposed Bob Sawyer; 'it's a capital song,
but I am afraid we had better not have the other verse. They are very
violent people, the people of the house.'

'Shall I step upstairs, and pitch into the landlord?' inquired Hopkins,
'or keep on ringing the bell, or go and groan on the staircase? You may
command me, Bob.'

'I am very much indebted to you for your friendship and good-nature,
Hopkins,' said the wretched Mr. Bob Sawyer, 'but I think the best plan
to avoid any further dispute is for us to break up at once.'

'Now, Mr. Sawyer,' screamed the shrill voice of Mrs. Raddle, 'are them
brutes going?'

'They're only looking for their hats, Mrs. Raddle,' said Bob; 'they are
going directly.'

'Going!' said Mrs. Raddle, thrusting her nightcap over the banisters
just as Mr. Pickwick, followed by Mr. Tupman, emerged from the
sitting-room. 'Going! what did they ever come for?'

'My dear ma'am,' remonstrated Mr. Pickwick, looking up.

'Get along with you, old wretch!' replied Mrs. Raddle, hastily
withdrawing the nightcap. 'Old enough to be his grandfather, you willin!
You're worse than any of 'em.'

Mr. Pickwick found it in vain to protest his innocence, so hurried
downstairs into the street, whither he was closely followed by Mr.
Tupman, Mr. Winkle, and Mr. Snodgrass. Mr. Ben Allen, who was dismally
depressed with spirits and agitation, accompanied them as far as London
Bridge, and in the course of the walk confided to Mr. Winkle, as
an especially eligible person to intrust the secret to, that he was
resolved to cut the throat of any gentleman, except Mr. Bob Sawyer, who
should aspire to the affections of his sister Arabella. Having expressed
his determination to perform this painful duty of a brother with proper
firmness, he burst into tears, knocked his hat over his eyes, and,
making the best of his way back, knocked double knocks at the door of
the Borough Market office, and took short naps on the steps alternately,
until daybreak, under the firm impression that he lived there, and had
forgotten the key.

The visitors having all departed, in compliance with the rather pressing
request of Mrs. Raddle, the luckless Mr. Bob Sawyer was left alone, to
meditate on the probable events of to-morrow, and the pleasures of the
evening.



CHAPTER XXXIII. Mr. WELLER THE ELDER DELIVERS SOME CRITICAL SENTIMENTS
RESPECTING LITERARY COMPOSITION; AND, ASSISTED BY HIS SON SAMUEL, PAYS A
SMALL INSTALMENT OF RETALIATION TO THE ACCOUNT OF THE REVEREND GENTLEMAN
WITH THE RED NOSE


The morning of the thirteenth of February, which the readers of this
authentic narrative know, as well as we do, to have been the day
immediately preceding that which was appointed for the trial of Mrs.
Bardell's action, was a busy time for Mr. Samuel Weller, who was
perpetually engaged in travelling from the George and Vulture to Mr.
Perker's chambers and back again, from and between the hours of nine
o'clock in the morning and two in the afternoon, both inclusive. Not
that there was anything whatever to be done, for the consultation
had taken place, and the course of proceeding to be adopted, had been
finally determined on; but Mr. Pickwick being in a most extreme state
of excitement, persevered in constantly sending small notes to his
attorney, merely containing the inquiry, 'Dear Perker. Is all going
on well?' to which Mr. Perker invariably forwarded the reply, 'Dear
Pickwick. As well as possible'; the fact being, as we have already
hinted, that there was nothing whatever to go on, either well or ill,
until the sitting of the court on the following morning.

But people who go voluntarily to law, or are taken forcibly there, for
the first time, may be allowed to labour under some temporary irritation
and anxiety; and Sam, with a due allowance for the frailties of
human nature, obeyed all his master's behests with that imperturbable
good-humour and unruffable composure which formed one of his most
striking and amiable characteristics.

Sam had solaced himself with a most agreeable little dinner, and was
waiting at the bar for the glass of warm mixture in which Mr. Pickwick
had requested him to drown the fatigues of his morning's walks, when a
young boy of about three feet high, or thereabouts, in a hairy cap and
fustian overalls, whose garb bespoke a laudable ambition to attain in
time the elevation of an hostler, entered the passage of the George and
Vulture, and looked first up the stairs, and then along the passage,
and then into the bar, as if in search of somebody to whom he bore a
commission; whereupon the barmaid, conceiving it not improbable that
the said commission might be directed to the tea or table spoons of the
establishment, accosted the boy with--

'Now, young man, what do you want?'

'Is there anybody here, named Sam?' inquired the youth, in a loud voice
of treble quality.

'What's the t'other name?' said Sam Weller, looking round.

'How should I know?' briskly replied the young gentleman below the hairy
cap. 'You're a sharp boy, you are,' said Mr. Weller; 'only I wouldn't
show that wery fine edge too much, if I was you, in case anybody took it
off. What do you mean by comin' to a hot-el, and asking arter Sam, vith
as much politeness as a vild Indian?'

''Cos an old gen'l'm'n told me to,' replied the boy.

'What old gen'l'm'n?' inquired Sam, with deep disdain.

'Him as drives a Ipswich coach, and uses our parlour,' rejoined the
boy. 'He told me yesterday mornin' to come to the George and Wultur this
arternoon, and ask for Sam.'

'It's my father, my dear,' said Mr. Weller, turning with an explanatory
air to the young lady in the bar; 'blessed if I think he hardly knows
wot my other name is. Well, young brockiley sprout, wot then?'

'Why then,' said the boy, 'you was to come to him at six o'clock to our
'ouse, 'cos he wants to see you--Blue Boar, Leaden'all Markit. Shall